McAfee acquires VPN provider TunnelBear

McAfee has announced that it has acquired Canada-based virtual private network (VPN) company TunnelBear. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Founded in 2011, Toronto-based TunnelBear has gained a solid reputation for its fun, cross-platform VPN app that uses quirky bear-burrowing animations to bring online privacy to the masses. The company claims around 20 million have used its service across mobile and desktop, while a few months back the company branched out into password management with the launch of the standalone RememBear app.

Above: TunnelBear for Chrome

Founded in 1987, McAfee is one of the most established brands in the online security realm, and is arguably best known for its desktop antivirus software. The company was acquired by Intel in 2010 for a mammoth $ 7.7 billion, and later became known as Intel Security Group, before being spun out last year as an independent company again with Intel retaining a 49 percent share in the company.

This latest deal represents McAfee’s second acquisition as an independent company, after it bought cybersecurity company Skyhigh Networks back in November.

TunnelBear hadn’t taken on any known outside funding, so McAfee is unlikely to have broken the bank to snap it up. However, TunnelBear has previously revealed that it was profitable, so it’s unlikely to have been in a desperate need to sell unless the offer was right.

Moving forward, it appears that TunnelBear will continue to operate as a standalone business, with the founding team staying on to develop the VPN product, though naturally we can likely expect to see some deeper synergies drawn between McAfee’s broader security suite and TunnelBear in the future. VentureBeat has reached out to both companies and will update here if, or when, we hear back.

“TunnelBear has built an engaging and profitable direct-to-consumer brand, and we’re confident this acquisition will serve both our end users and partners by embedding its best-in-class, hardened network into our Safe Connect product,” noted McAfee CEO Christopher Young, in a press release. “This investment is strategic for McAfee’s consumer business as it further showcases our commitment to help keep our customers’ online data and browsing private and more secure at a time when the threat landscape is growing in volume, speed and complexity.”

Though VPNs have served as popular online privacy tools for years, helping internet users mask their true location and access services restricted to other regions, growing privacy concerns and political shifts such as Donald Trump’s rise to the White House have led a number of VPN and encrypted messaging services reporting a surge in downloads. Indeed, there are no shortage of VPN services out there already, but new ones arrive on the market frequently too — ProtonMail, for example, recently expanded beyond encrypted email to offer its first dedicated VPN service.

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