FT.com site : How mutual support swept a path to VC funds.
24 January 2006
Financial Times (FT.Com)
(c) 2006 The Financial Times Limited. All rights reserved
Clearswift is the company behind MIMEsweeper, the popular security product that "sweeps" e-mails for viruses. It
is used by 15,000 organisations, including 40 per cent of the Fortune 500 index. E-mails may also be screened on
behalf of the originating company for harmful content such as defamatory language, pornography or confidential
Such holistic protection has grown in popularity, not least because a few stray e-mails have achieved worldwide
Protection can be achieved in three main ways: by licensing software for installation on a company's computers;
installing a message-filtering appliance at the gateway to an intranet; or as a managed service, where a third-party
company filters all ingoing and outgoing messages through its own systems.
The company was established in 1982, as Net-tel, by four colleagues, including John Horton, chief executive,
whose industry background included the UK's General Electric Company and Acorn Computer.
Net-tel exploited the market for e-mail software until Microsoft began to dominate in the mid-1990s. Then it focused
on content-filtering, building high-security systems for many well-known corporations on the back of UK
government contracts that required high security.
In 2001, Net-tel completed a first round of VC fundraising through Richard Anton at Amadeus Capital Partners and
was renamed Clearswift. The following year it acquired a rival, Content Technologies, and with it the
Today, it has 230 staff in the UK, the US, Germany, Japan and Australia. Turnover was about GBP24m ($43m) in
the year to March 2005. It has been in profit for the past five quarters.
John Horton, 59, worked as a software engineer at GEC and a technical director at Acorn Computer before co-
founding Net-tel, the company that eventually became Clearswift. He stood aside as chief executive after
completing his first round of venture capital investment and is now company secretary. He also oversees
government-grade, high-security projects.
The story of how I came to meet Richard Anton starts with an American entrepreneur, Andy Demari, who
collaborated with Net-tel on various projects in the early days. He put me in touch with an ex-colleague of his from