The Fastest Growing Anti-Virus Software Developer You’ve Never Heard Of

5/7/09Follow @bvbigelow

The economy might be stalling, but sales of anti-virus software developed by San Diego-based Eset, which have been almost doubling every year since 2005, are rising fast at the beginning of a classic S-shaped curve of market penetration.

I know this because Eset’s founding CEO Anton Zajac, who began his career as a theoretical physicist in what is now Slovakia, enthusiastically drew the graph for me when I met with him this week. Zajac keeps a big paper tablet on an easel in his office for just such occasions, and he also explained in mathematical terms that Eset’s growth rate, which was expressed as a derivative, is equal to r P(t) (1-P(t)).

I confess I had a hard time absorbing this, perhaps because his corner office, on the 19th floor of a high-rise in San Diego’s Little Italy neighborhood, has a stunning view of the San Diego harbor and sailboats in the bay. But here’s one relevant point: “During the conficker worm attacks, our sales tripled,” Zajac said. Online sales of Eset’s anti-virus software, which typically range between $60,000 and $80,000 a day, hit the carnival bell on April 1st with more than $200,000 worth of software downloads in one day.

Anton Zajac

Anton Zajac

Zajac said Eset’s global sales hit $112 million in 2008, and about $60 million were recorded in the first three months of 2009. Last year’s sales amounted to a 79 percent gain over 2007 sales of $62.6 million, a number that had to be verified for Eset to qualify for Inc magazine’s list of the 500 fastest-growing private companies for the second consecutive year. Likewise, Eset’s 2007 sales represented an 85 percent increase over the company’s 2006 sales of $33.8 million.

Zajac says Eset has about 70 million customers worldwide, but the company is not well-known in the United States, where Zajac estimates its market penetration is only about 2 percent. That is largely due to Eset’s origins—the business started in Slovakia in 1991 and continues to operate what Zajac calls a production headquarters in Bratislava. Another factor may be that Eset has received no venture funding, and remains privately owned. It has about 300 employees worldwide, including about 130 in San Diego.

But Eset spokesman Christopher Dale says the company has been gradually gaining more recognition since it opened its San Diego office in 1999. Dale notes … Next Page »

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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