Symantec goes box shopping?

Contact: Brenon Daly

After holding off for some time, Websense finally rolled out its first secure Web gateway appliance earlier this month. Now we’re hearing that another major security vendor is about to get into the box business. Only this time, it’ll be through acquisition, rather than internal development like it was at Websense. Several market sources have indicated that Symantec has purchased Mi5 Networks, a security appliance startup based in Sunnyvale, California.

The acquisition is expected to be announced at next week’s RSA conference, according to a source. If indeed the deal goes through, it will be Symantec’s first since picking up MessageLabs for $695m last October. Obviously, the purchase of five-year-old Mi5 would be much smaller. (We weren’t able to learn terms of the deal.)

Mi5 has raised just $3.5m in venture backing from Labrador Ventures, First Round Capital and several angel investors. Among the company’s early backers is Sunil Paul, who founded Brightmail. (That’s right, the very same company that was run by current Symantec CEO Enrique Salem.) And finally, there’s an even more direct link in the rumored pairing: Mi5 is currently headed by Doug Camplejohn, a former executive at Vontu, which Symantec acquired in late 2007.