An era has drawn to a close with the news that Leprechaun Software has ceased trading.
The Queensland-based developer, founded by managing director Jack Kenyon in 1989, was best known for its VirusBuster II product. It was the last remaining Australian-owned and operated desktop antivirus software company following Computer Associates’ acquisition of VET five years ago.
In a letter to customers, Kenyon said health issues meant he was no longer able to operate the company or provide the ongoing research required to continue product development.
“As you will understand this has been a painful decision and if there was a viable alternative I would have chosen it,” the letter read. “I sincerely apologise that I have not been able to provide you with more notice, but hope you understand that it is not a process that can be undertaken gradually.”
Kenyon has negotiated a three-way deal with Trend Micro and Sydney-based systems integrator, Lanrex, offering a migration path to the multinational vendor’s PC-cillin desktop product or its small business client server suite.
Those accepting the offer — available until June 30 — would immediately be converted to Trend Micro and receive updates until their VirusBuster II licences are due for renewal. As an additional incentive, they would also have updates extended until June 30, 2006.
“We had an obligation to our customers. You can’t just walk away,” Kenyon said. “But the offer is only available until the end of the month because Trend Micro wanted it to be finalised before the end of the financial year.
“Trend Micro’s is a very good product, similar to VirusBuster, and provides my customers with a sense of continuity.”
Trend Micro channel director, Graeme Burt, said Leprechaun’s approach had been flattering.
Lanrex will be responsible for providing support to the new customers signed up as a result of the agreement.
The majority of Leprechaun customers are in Queensland but Lanrex director, Neville Mundy, said his company would have no problems providing national support from its Sydney offices.
“It will mainly be phone support but with technological advances such as remote control it no longer makes a difference if a customer is around the corner or on the other side of the world,” he said.
Leprechaun’s website claimed VirusBuster had been installed on 500,000 computers over the years. In 2001, the company boasted a network of 140 resellers and 100,000 licensed seats but those numbers had since reduced significantly.
Kenyon estimated close of business figures were closer to 30-40 resellers and about 11,000 seats.
Leprechaun would endeavour to support its customers until June 2005 if they didn’t want to switch to Trend Micro, Kenyon said, and had been flooded with emails from customers that were sorry to see it closing down.
Acknowledging Leprechaun’s position as the last Australian developer of antivirus software, Kenyon said it was difficult to see other local players filling its shoes.
“You never know but it’s very hard for a security company to make a start in Australia given the lack of Government support compared to overseas,” he said. “Australia will be hard pushed to keep its software industry going at all.”