Former McAfee Exec Gets The Top Spot at Webroot

The CEO’s baton has been passed at Webroot Software, with David Moll, who led the company from a 10 person staff to a 300 person leader in spyware detection in just five years, stepping aside and a McAfee veteran taking the helm.

Peter Watkins, former chief operating officer for McAfee , is now the chief executive of Webroot. Moll will become vice chairman and retain his board seat.

Webroot also picked off a star from another rival in PC security, appointing Chris Benham, a former vice president of worldwide marketing at Symantec  to be vice president of corporate marketing.

Along with its rapid growth as a highly-regarded anti-spyware software provider, Webroot recently added virus detection to its software.

The company has also gathered an impressive executive team of security experts. COO Mike Irwin comes from Brightmail, which develops e-mail spam protection. CTO Gerhard Eschelbeck comes from network security vendor Qualys and CFO Joshua Pace was previously with Openwave Systems.

Given Webroot’s growth, Moll said he decided what the company needed was someone who could take it to the next level.

“When I look at what we’ve experienced in the last five years and what we need to do in the next five years, I just see a different job out there. The skills needed are a different set than what we’ve experienced to date,” he told

“That’s not to say that I don’t think I could have done it. But looking at Peter’s experience at growing McAfee to a billion dollar company, I’d like to have someone who’s run the playbook before,” he added.

Moll will remain on the board, but for now expects to work with other startup technology firms in the Boulder, Colorado area where Webroot is headquartered, and put more time into a non-profit group dedicated to children’s food allergies, since his children suffer from that problem.

Watkins is expected to divide his time between Boulder and Mountain View, California, where Webroot has a sizable office. Benham’s hiring was a stroke of good fortune. He moved from southern California, where Symantec is based, to the Boulder area for “lifestyle.”

“We were delighted to find him in our own back yard,” said Moll. “I could not be more excited than to have Chris join our organization. We’re talking about a guy with unparalleled experience in our space.”

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