Symantec, based in Cupertino, Calif., bought San Francisco-based Brightmail for a reported $370 million. Symantec had already had an 11 percent interest in Brightmail, which brought in $26 million in the fiscal year ended this past January.
Brightmail's products will give Symantec, a player in the consumer anti-spam market, its first steps into the enterprise anti-spam arena. The company's anti-spam products filter spam, viruses and unwanted messages at the Internet gateway.
''I absolutely believe spam is a security issue,'' says Steve Cullen, vice president of security products and solutions at Symantec. ''Viruses and worms infiltrate a network through email. Spam absolutely is a security threat.''
Symantec got into the consumer anti-spam space two years ago. Last September, the company released its Norton Internet Security Suite with upgraded anti-spam capabilities. Symantec also released a stand-alone anti-spam product, Norton Anti-Spam.
But the company had no anti-spam solution for the enterprise side of its business. And with spam increasingly becoming a security issue, many enterprise IT managers are looking for anti-virus, perimeter protection and anti-spam products all from the same vendor.
Joining anti-virus and anti-spam forces has become a trend in the vendor world.
Sophos, Inc., a network security and anti-virus company based in Lynnfield, Mass., acquired ActiveState, an anti-spam vendor, last September.
Symantec's Cullen says this is a move Symantec has been eager to make.
''This will give us a market-leading solution at the gateway,'' says Cullen. ''That will help with the perception that Symantec is a client company. We weren't known as a gateway security provider. This is a step that will secure our place on the gateway and in the enterprise.''
The acquisition, conditioned on customary regulatory approval, is expected to close early in July.
Cullen says it's too early to say exactly how Symantec will package and sell Brightmail's products, or what will happen to Brightmail's 165 employees.