HomeTechnologySix engineers who helped Google land in Malaga

Six engineers who helped Google land in Malaga

VirusTotal developers, along with local talent and contacts, are why the giant chose to open its first major cybersecurity center in Europe in this city, which will open this Wednesday.

A group of engineers from Malaga founded VirusTotal in 2004. This was an online service where anyone could send a file suspected to be infected and ask for a second opinion to check if it really was. The startup didn’t make money until 2009, but the model was so effective that one of its main executives, Bernardo Quintero, and his team bet a bottle of whiskey that they would eventually become part of Google. Three years later, they won their bet: they became the second Spanish company acquired by the American company. They were offered jobs in Silicon Valley or Zurich, but they chose to stay in Malaga and no one said no. Its work since then is why the tech giant decided to open its third European Google Security Engineering Center (GSEC) in the city in a decade, the first of which specializes in cybersecurity. It opens this Wednesday and puts the icing on the cake of the work Quintero and his colleagues began in 1998.

Google’s new European headquarters is a bright building located next to the Muelle Uno entertainment area, featuring a spectacular brick mural by local firm Todobarro and two works by artist Play in Colors. There are dozens of workers coming and going to get the job done. Details Opening attended by senior staff of the technology giant. The property offers views of Malaga Harbour, the cathedral and the castle. This is a pleasure for the six engineers who developed VirusTotal, as well as for the company’s North American executives. These are Quintero, as well as Julio Canto, Francisco Santos, Alejandro Bermúdez, Emiliano Martínez and Víctor Manuel Álvarez. They are now in their 40s and 50s, with teenage happiness in their eyes when they look at their new offices. They also look back and remember the moments and factors that played a key role in Google’s decision to choose Malaga over any other European capital.

The origin of everything was Hispasec, a company that continues to operate today and from which VirusTotal was born, and before that, the newsletter. One a day. In 1998, when cybersecurity was still in its infancy, Quintero was told he could not have a permanent section in the magazine. current computer because there weren’t enough topics to talk about computer viruses every month. He then created this: newsletter He sent a daily news report on the subject to the broadcasters. He convinced them. I created the website hispasec.com hosting that newsletter that went viral and then became a business. In February 1999, EL PAÍS interviewed him, and there Quintero described his idea to create VirusTotal. “I published it there, and it ran for five years without anyone starting it,” Quintero now recalls. If someone had done this, perhaps this guy from Malaga would never have been featured on Google or in the Malaga region.

The history that followed is full of anecdotes. For example, Víctor Álvarez signed a competition. Quintero started a protected file on the internet where a password must be found and whoever solves it will receive a book and a job offer. The first one was Álvarez, and they just sent him the book because he was working at Panda at the time and no one thought he wanted to work at VirusTotal. “But I wanted it: I would have more decision-making capacity there, I would have influence over what I did,” he recalls. “Then I came with the same philosophy: I wanted the startup spirit of creating something,” adds Emiliano Martínez. No one thought their actions would attract Google’s attention. They moved to a chalet near the beach to work when the tech company bought them for a figure that was never publicly disclosed. It was the latter that came to mind. The first choice was one of those on the front lines, and the North American team that visited the region in August said no because they had doubts about whether these children would really work in such a place.

VirusTotal founders pose with facilities in the background in Malaga on November 27, 2023.
VirusTotal founders pose with facilities in the background in Malaga on November 27, 2023.
Garcia-Santos (El Pais)

Good numbers and metrics supported the VirusTotal team’s decision to leave Malaga. There was another factor: Every vacancy was filled by responsive staff from the first minute. Their relationship with the University of Malaga has always been so close that they even spent the last five years in a building of the public institution, when they had to leave the chalet due to the growth of the team. Together with them, they created a university specialization course that will soon enter its sixth edition, signed research collaboration agreements, and recently announced the creation of a chair in cybersecurity and an incubator for companies in this field. Bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity and artificial intelligence. “Investing in local talent was crucial. This is the most important resource for tech companies, and here we are,” says Quintero.

The model of collaboration with the university and local talents (million-dollar firms such as Freepik, BeSoccer, UptoDown or Premo, among others) laid the foundation for the city’s technological boom. Major innovation hubs have emerged in recent years and companies such as Vodafone, Telefónica, CapGemini, Globant and Citigroup already have strong facilities in the capital of Malaga. In addition, the cyber security center of Junta de Andalusia, in which the management invested 74 million euros, was opened just a few days before Google’s new headquarters. All of this, along with the communications infrastructure that Malaga has, is a breeding ground that supports Google’s decision. From the AVE and motorways to the international airport, dozens of connections to Europe are two to three hours away. Working and dining facilities little fish.

Alejandro Bermúdez says that they feel like they are working for Google in the new building where they have been working for a few weeks, and adds, “Style and quality of life are also important.” For facilities, security, new internal bureaucracy and resources for a center that will “promote research and development of cutting-edge tools to combat cyber threats,” according to technology sources. Also for foosball, he is the one who has accompanied them for the last decade and has survived this move. The engineers, who dreamed of working for Google one day and eventually had Google settle in their city, concluded, “They bought us a new one, but even though the old one is worn out, we still prefer it.”

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Source: El Pais

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