CSO role was “fake PR” for Toronto startup, McAfee says

If there’s no such thing as bad publicity, then Toronto blockchain startup Equibit Development Corporation (EDC) has had the type of week that companies which have been in business for decades still dream about.

The company issued a statement Friday clarifying that security icon John McAfee had not joined EDC in a full-time executive role, and that it did not mean to imply otherwise when referring to him as the company’s Chief Security Officer.

McAfee being McAfee, however, the outspoken founder of McAfee Associates called EDC’s original statement “fake PR for their company.”

“I have arrangements with 31 boards of directors of cybersecurity companies who may call me for advice at any time, providing my time allows,” McAfee told IT World Canada via Twitter. “Same deal with Equibit.”

EDC briefly made waves in both Toronto’s tech sector and beyond this week when it was announced on Nov. 24 that McAfee, known both for his eponymous antivirus company, which was purchased by Intel Corp. in 2010 for $7.68 billion, and for his lifestyle choices, interactions with law enforcement in Belize, and readiness to make public and controversial statements about his former company and other players in the tech sector, would be joining a relatively unknown Canadian startup as its CSO.

“That was the title that we were originally working with when we were first putting things together,” EDC founder and CEO Chris Horlacher told IT World Canada. “However, after we announced his position the media ran with it, assuming he had joined the company in a full-time role, which was never the case. It was always a spot where he would be reporting to the board, independently of the CEO, and making recommendations on security.”

Before EDC released its updated statement on Nov. 25, Horlacher said that he and McAfee discussed the public response to the headlines, and agreed to revise McAfee’s title to make his advisory role more explicit.

“Nothing has changed in terms of what John will be doing with us,” Horlacher told IT World Canada. “He’s here to help us find penetration testers, find holes, recommend how we can fix those things, and keep us up to date on what the latest is in the cybersecurity realm.”

According to the company’s updated statement, McAfee will report directly to EDC’s board of directors, and oversee the security of EDC’s applications and managed services for the financial industry.

With files from Brian Jackson.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Eric Emin Wood
Eric Emin Wood
Former IT World Canada associate editor turned consultant with public relations firm Porter Novelli. When not writing for the tech industry enjoys photography, movies, travelling, the Oxford comma, and will talk your ear off about animation if you give him an opening.

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