There’s a surprising deal today in the Internet security space. FireEye, the security company that went public only last fall, has just announced its first acquisition, and it’s a doozy.
FireEye said it shelled out $1.05 billion in cash and stock to acquire Mandiant in a deal that closed on Dec. 30 but which is only being announced today.
If the name Mandiant sounds familiar, it’s the firm that won some fame for tracking down the unit of China’s People’s Liberation Army that it said is responsible for numerous hacking attacks against many large companies in the U.S., Canada and Europe. It also led the investigation into the breach of the New York Times by hackers based in China.
These two outfits had been collaborating for awhile. FireEye specializes in a real-time filtering technology that, as CEO Dave Dewalt described to me not long ago, “detonates” the elements of Web pages in a virtual machine in real time to see what they do. The point is to make sure that some little bit of code that may appear innocuous isn’t actually a malware-bearing cyberweapon. It executes these page elements in a virtual machine where it’s safe to do so, and cuts them off if they turn out to be naughty.
Mandiant is best known as the company you call in after you’ve suffered a sophisticated hacking attack. It also does endpoint security, and several of its products have been integrated into FireEye’s, so the combination makes a certain amount of sense. Also, it doesn’t hurt that DeWalt was once the chairman of Mandiant’s board.
FireEye shares rose by more than 16 percent after hours to $48 after the deal was announced. During the regular session, the shares fell by more than five percent. The shares are up by more than 105 percent since opening at $20 a share on Sept. 20.