John McAfee may be Silicon Valley’s favorite black sheep.
The anti-virus software founder (he founded McAfee in 1987) made a splash last year when he fled Belize after his neighbor’s murder, faked a heart attack to escape a Guatemalan prison and somehow washed up on the shores of Miami. Allegations of his drug and women-fueled lifestyle in Belize scandalized and titillated the American public making him a celebrity of sorts. McAfee became a sort of perverse anti-hero, even making fun of his public persona in a viral video (NSFW).
Now McAfee wants to prove that he’s not just a character but also a great tech engineer. At a San Jose tech conference last week, McAfee unveiled his plans for a new product called D-Central. The $100 "mesh box" promises to guarantee total security online, even from the prying eyes and ears of the NSA.
The product could be used for a slew of things, from “sending emails to your lover where you can use juicy language to trading files of songs, it will be used for anything the Internet is used for,” McAfee tells The Daily Ticker.
McAfee is funding this project on his own through a company called Future Tense Central. The programmer told ABC News that he only had a few five-dollar bills to his name in December but he now claims he has enough money to fund the creation of the tech product. “I’m not broke, I do have shoes and I eat three meals a day,” he jokes.
McAfee realizes that he has many critics, “You don’t have to take me seriously but in six months I’ll have a prototype ready for anyone who wants to try it, the proof is in the pudding,” he says.
And to the critics who question McAfee’s sanity? “I hope I’m not totally sane,” says McAfee. “I think to be a successful entrepreneur you have to be outside the box and you have to be just a little bit crazy... I hope I’m a little insane.”
Aaron Pressman, Yahoo Finance tech reporter, also weighed in on the viability of the product. “It seems plausible that you could sell a product to offer local, encrypted mesh networking service. The $100 price sounds kind of aggressive but not crazy.”
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While the product is viable in concept, it will be difficult to find a market, says Pressman. “While you're connected to the mesh network, you can't be connected to the regular Internet, where the NSA is peeking at everything, so you can't browse the web or use your usual apps.”
So we asked Pressman who he thinks would be interested in D-Central. “Maybe a few very privacy concerned neighbors? The local drug dealers? I'm not sure there's quite enough paranoia to create much demand for a private, local encrypted network.”
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- John McAfee