Steven Thomas, considered a security visionary for founding anti-spyware company Webroot, was found dead Sunday in Hawaii, some two weeks after he was reported missing.
The decomposing body of Thomas, who family members said began recently suffering from bipolar disorder and delusions that he was being tracked by aliens and the government, was discovered near the base of a 985-foot Oahu cliff, according to newspaper reports.
Friends, meanwhile, said they were surprised to hear of Thomas' medical condition.
He had been missing since June 30, when he was last seen at a Honolulu hotel, where his relatives were staying, reports said. His corpse was discovered by three hikers.
Jeff Herman, president of Fuser.com, joined Webroot in 2002, when only about 10 people worked at the company.
He told SCMagazineUS.com on Monday that he grew to be friends with Thomas, who ultimately sold Webroot for more than $100 million after starting it in 1997.
Herman described Thomas as smart, creative and laid back, but with an “intense” streak that showed when was developing a new product.
“He was always fighting to get the right features in,” Herman, who served as the vice president of products and later vice president of operations until he departed in 2005, said. “[Thomas] wrote the original Window Washer program until Spy Sweeper hit, and that was his product too.”
After he left Webroot, Herman remained friends with Thomas, who himself got involved with real estate investments and the stock market.
The two men shared a passion for music, particularly classic rock, Herman said.
Herman and his wife frequently attended concerts with Thomas and his wife, Candis, who had been diligently searching for her husband since he went missing in Waikiki.
The two couples often attended shows at Red Rocks Ampitheatre, near Boulder, Colo., where Herman works and where Thomas lived for half the year, Herman said.
“The bizarre stuff I've read in the paper the last couple of weeks isn't the guy I knew,” Herman said of Thomas. “He was a visionary and a person who broke ground in the security industry. He, as an individual, saw the problem of spyware before most anyone else did. He should be recognized for the things he accomplished… [which] far outweigh any of the difficulties he's run into the last couple of months.”
Thomas reportedly had refused to take any drugs to counter his growing paranoia. The Medical Examiner's Office in Honolulu was expected to release results from Thomas' autopsy later Monday, Michelle Yu, a spokeswoman for the Honolulu Police Department, told SCMagazineUS.com.
She said Thomas' body was recovered below a scenic lookout known as Nuuanu Pali Lookout. His corpse was discovered in an area with heavy brush.
"We are deeply saddened to hear of Steve's death and are offering his family our most heartfelt sympathy for their loss," Robert Berger, director of marketing and communications at Webroot, said in a statement. "Even though Steve has not been involved with Webroot in over four years, he has many friends here and we will always be grateful for having been a part of his life while he was creating Webroot."