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Symantec builds an incubator for new ideas

Robert McMillan | Oct. 30, 2008
Symantec is developing a startup-style Incubator division for new projects.

At a recent meeting of Symantec's technical staff in Salt Lake City, Bregman told company engineers that the program was getting high marks from Thompson, who told him, "the ideas we're getting through the Incubator are better than the ones we're paying the consultants to give us," Bregman said.

If things work out with the Incubator, it will have successful projects generating a hundred million dollars in annual revenue within the next few years, according to Bregman.

With nearly 100 employees, the Symantec Protection Network is the largest Incubator project, by far. Other efforts employ as few as three staffers.

Symantec isn't offering many details on these other Incubator ideas. One has to do with the health care sector. One of Bregman's favorite projects is building a kind of online identity information broker to help people know who to trust on the Internet.

"If I want to go online and buy wine ... how do I prove I'm over 21? There's no mechanism to do that today," Bregman said. "But we think there are some interesting mechanisms that you can put in place that would provide a service -- a broker -- to validate assertions."

The identity project is like nothing Symantec has done before, but it's representative of the new ideas that Symantec wants to encourage. "It's a completely different business model," Bregman said. "How does it get paid for? We're not sure yet."


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