In the last 30 days, it’s likely Avast’s antivirus software would have protected its users from more than 2 billion computer virus attacks. The mission started back in 1988, when Czech researchers Eduard Kučera and Pavel Baudiš came across the Vienna Virus. Avast Software was born from their quest to save the world’s computers from these kinds of viruses. Today, Avast holds the world’s largest market share for antivirus applications, protecting 230 million people’s online devices — in their homes, while they are mobile, and at their businesses.
When Avast’s CEO, Vince Steckler, first discovered Avast, he knew he was looking at “a real unpolished gem”.
“It sounded like it would be a heck of a lot of fun to try to take Avast and turn it into something bigger and that’s what we’ve been doing over the last 7 years. When I started we had 40 people, now we have close to 700. It has been a time of tremendous growth. And growth is so much more fun than defending market share,” he says.
All the perks you’d expect from a software company — away from Silicon Valley
Avast has built a new office for its headquarters in Prague — the Enterprise building — which is inspired by Silicon Valley. Demonstrating Avast’s commitment to its employees and their work–life balance, the building boasts a gym and recreational facilities, hammocks, a cafeteria where celebrity chefs serve free meals, and a 360-degree view of the city.
“There’s a lot of good business reasons to keep our employees happy. We’ve got a really nice restaurant that’s free to our staff and they start engaging with other people. They sit down at breakfast or lunch with people they don’t really know and they talk and get to know each other better,” says Vince.
“You get a much more engaged workforce, which is very important for business. Frankly, the Silicon Valley companies do it for the same reasons. As companies get bigger, it’s so hard to know the people you work with and what they do. So much depends on that informal interaction.”
Given the employee perks and the company’s noble quest to provide the world with online security and privacy, it’s unsurprising that Avast attracts some of the best talent in IT, and has also been named the best large-size company employer in the Czech Republic by AON Hewitt.
Software that speaks for itself
We really emphasise product and product quality as opposed to product marketing. When you’re fundamentally in the business of distributing free products and trying to make money from free products, it’s all about the consumers. The consumers are not stupid; they are not going to use a product just because it’s free. If it is a product that doesn’t work, or irritates them, they’re going to drop it like a hot potato, so you have to let the product market itself. We have to rely on the quality of the product and the recommendations of users in order to stay ahead of our competitors and continue to grow this business in a very challenging environment.