Surreptitious Adware Company Zango Finally Shuts Down

from the about-time dept

Remember back in the days of surreptitiously installed adware/spyware? For the most part, those days are gone, driven out by better security, FTC crackdowns and more sophisticated users. However, one of the big companies in the space, Zango, hung around for years, and finally shut down.

The company, which was originally known as 180Solutions, raised millions from VCs who didn't seem to recognize just how hated the company was, and just how many of its installs weren't by choice, but through annoyance. Then, for years, the company kept trying and failing to shake the "spyware" label, always blaming "bad actors" in its distribution network, but doing little to actually stop any of those bad actors. At times, it even rewarded them or made ridiculous claims about how its software couldn't be used for sneaky installs any more, despite plenty of evidence to the contrary. Incredibly, the company merged with another infamous adware firm and renamed the new company after the firm's most hated app Zango. And then, of course, came the lawsuits and a settlement with the FTC, which the company didn't appear to live up to. Most recently, the company was supposed to have "reinvented itself" in the "casual gaming" market.

Of all things, I'd actually run into some folks from the company at a conference last year, where they were pitching their "innovative advertising solutions," but would clam up or use misdirection any time you asked them for specifics about who would see the ads and how the software had gotten on their computers in the first place. In the meantime, one of the company's founders has written up something of a post mortem, where he suggests that only 4% of their installs early on were "completely silent," but doesn't note how many weren't necessarily "silent," but were done through trickery or a lack of full info. He also blames others in the space for being worse, and getting a bad rap because of their actions. Eventually, he also admits that the company also never provided much value in exchange for the advertisements, and at least is willing to admit that the company's management "was brain-dead" and should have recognized this early on. It's a fairly open and honest piece on what happened, though I think he doesn't give nearly enough blame to the company itself. It was quite evident how problematic the company's actions were from a very early stage, and the fact that it continued right up until recently suggests this wasn't just a case of a few small mistakes, but a systematic culture at or around the company that encouraged those types of actions.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Antimalwareguy, Apr 22nd, 2009 @ 9:48am

    The real question here is what Blinx is going to do with their new aquisition. While many articles and discussions about this are claiming victory here, I would say that it is still too early to say this until we get a clearer picture of what the "debris" of Zango is going to be used for...

     

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  2.  
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    Tgeigs, Apr 22nd, 2009 @ 9:54am

    Michael

    I usually like your writing, but this one needs SEVERE editing. I know it's not a big deal, but some folks like me get distracted by the typos.

    1. At times, it even rewarded them or making ridiculous claims...
    2. And, then, of course came...
    3. It was quite evidence how problematic the company's actions were...

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 22nd, 2009 @ 10:54am

    The guy sounds sort of sympathetic if you read his article. But then you remember that they tried to turn the out-of-browser PC desktop into an advertising zone and that the world is better off for them failing.

    Sure, browsers are advertising zones, as are television, radio, roads, airports, malls, busses, and virtually every other place on the planet. That doesn't make it right to convert one of the few remaining pristine places into an ad battlefield. Let's start placing billboards in national forests, shall we?

     

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  4.  
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    DJ, Apr 22nd, 2009 @ 11:04am

    tangent...

    So I was poking around in regedit the other day trying to remove a program that I had intentionally installed -- once upon a time -- but would not remove itself from the registry....
    And I saw a listing for Zango.
    I'm not exactly a software wiz, so I didn't think anything of it (aside from the fact that I didn't recognize the program), until I read this article.
    so now I have to figure out how to uninstall the bastard! Wunderbar!

     

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  5.  
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    Jeff, Apr 22nd, 2009 @ 11:05am

    YEEEEEEEEEEEEES!

    Zango goes down! What about 180 solutions? Are they being shutdown too finally?

     

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  6.  
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    kirillian (profile), Apr 22nd, 2009 @ 11:22am

    One more grammar error

    In the meantime, one of the company's founders has written up something of a post mortem, where he suggests that only 4% of their installs early on where "completely silent," but doesn't note how many weren't necessarily "silent," but were done through trickery or a lack of full info.

    You may want to change the spelling of this word...it's pronounced differently than what I think you intended (were)...it's not a big deal to me, but since someone already started the grammar corrections, I figured I'd help out a little...this was the only one that really even stood out to me...cuz I had to reread the sentence to understand it...I completely missed the other errors.

     

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  7.  
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    Charlie Potatoes, Apr 22nd, 2009 @ 11:23am

    Standing in line ...

    I swore long ago that the day would come when I would piss on Zango's grave. Now the day is come I find I don't have the energy... and I have decided it's not worth standing in line for hours anyway. www.newworldessays.com

     

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  8.  
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    charlie again, Apr 22nd, 2009 @ 11:26am

    Re: One more grammar error

    If you want to play grammar Nazi you have to be purer than Caesar's wife... the phrase is "different FROM". One thing cannot be 'different THAN' another thing.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 22nd, 2009 @ 11:57am

    Re: Re: One more grammar error

    "If you want to play grammar Nazi you have to be purer than Caesar's wife... the phrase is "different FROM". One thing cannot be 'different THAN' another thing."

    Should have been broken by a semicolon, not triple period :)

     

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  10.  
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    another mike, Apr 22nd, 2009 @ 3:22pm

    nonono

    You don't merge with another company and name the new entity after the most universally despised product you offer. Pick something uplifting and inspiring, like Premiere.

     

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  11.  
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    charlie, Apr 22nd, 2009 @ 7:53pm

    Re: Re: Re: One more grammar error

    That mark you call a triple period is called an elipse and it's acceptable in this particular situation. Nice try.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
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    GrammerKing, Apr 23rd, 2009 @ 3:49am

    Re: Re: Re: One more grammar error

    Good point their Mate, their is alot of bad grammer in the article. But its because he might of rushed it, innit.

     

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  13.  
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    William Prince, May 19th, 2009 @ 11:58pm

    Zango

    In spite of the bullshit, I loved this site rocks.
    can you hook me up with a similar site.
    Thank you william Prince

     

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  14.  
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    mlgreen8753 (profile), Jun 26th, 2009 @ 5:06pm

    About time!

    About time they cracked down on them. With all the free ways to advertise on the Internet you have got to be a fool to SPAM or deceive people with Adware. Sites like Adwido make it easy to ethically advertise your products and services. There is no need for that type of business practice.

     

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  15.  
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    Beejay, Jul 23rd, 2009 @ 2:50am

    All for Zango

    I advertise on Zango as they bring me many 1000's of $$$$ a month and still doing so as off today. I wonder how many here are throwing the proverbial stone and being hypocrites. Wake up and smell the coffee! Long live Zango

     

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  16.  
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    Jon May, Aug 9th, 2009 @ 11:35am

    zango

    If Zango has been shut down.... why does it still come up on my system.... how can Zango be sued? Is there anyone that monitors malicious internet companies... i.e. Malware Dr. (this program destroys your 0 sector on your hard-drive. How can you bring these thieves to justice....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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