Tech Twosome That Snubbed Communists Strikes Blow for Capitalism

(Bloomberg) -- Pavel Baudis and Eduard Kucera have the strictures of communism to thank for reaching the pinnacle of capitalism.

The Czech co-founders of cyber-security firm Avast Plc only started tinkering with computers together in 1988 after Kucera’s refusal to join the Communist Party stymied his academic career.

This week, the antivirus software maker raised 602 million pounds ($814 million) in the world’s third-biggest enterprise technology listing this year -- and London’s largest ever -- and now has a market value exceeding $3.1 billion. That means Baudis is a billionaire, thanks to stock sales and a remaining 27 percent stake worth about $850 million, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Kucera owns stock worth $332 million, according to the prospectus. Avast declined to comment.

The company is a relatively rare London listing for an enterprise tech firm. There have been eight such offerings in the U.S. this year -- including Dropbox Inc. and DocuSign Inc. -- that raised a combined $3.4 billion. In London, there have been just two other offerings that raised a total of $17 million.

Avast had a bumpy debut on the London Stock Exchange, dropping 1.6 percent on its first day of trading after pricing at the bottom of the range amid a tough stretch for Britain’s IPO market. That Avast’s 2012 plan to list in New York fell through probably weighed on sentiment as well, Stifel Financial Corp. analyst George O’Connor said in an interview.

Read more: Bumpy start for Avast in London’s largest tech IPO

Still, the company doesn’t seem to be hurting for work. Avast says it protects 435 million monthly active users from more than 2 billion attacks each month.

The men, looking back at their early days, said they couldn’t have done it inside the Soviet system.

"It was the reason for our success,” Kucera told USA Today in a 2013 interview. “With communism, there are no successful companies.”

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

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