by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
adware, out of business, spyware

claria, gator, jellycloud

Is The Original Spyware Company Finally Dead?

from the a-milestone dept

For nearly a decade, we've followed the changing business of what was originally called Gator. When it first launched, back in 1999, the company was offering an e-wallet product, and even though there were many such things on the market, Gator insisted that it was first. When it turned out that there wasn't much of a market for an e-wallet product, the company quickly morphed its business into popping up ads over existing ads -- which resulted in a whole bunch of lawsuits. It didn't take long before Gator realized that people didn't really want its software popping up ads, so it began tricking users into downloading. As many folks recall, Gator was one of the first real "spyware" companies -- tricking users into downloading a product that watched what they surfed and popped up ads.

As the whole spyware (the companies in the space preferred the adware label) got a bad name, Gator first threatened to sue anyone who called its product spyware, and then eventually decided to shed the baggage of the Gator name and renamed itself Claria. -- insisting that it was now a legitimate advertising firm. Except, the charges of spyware kept flying in Claria's direction. The company tried and failed to go public, and then, once again, insisted that it was getting out of the adware business and moving into "behavioral advertising" -- which, most people realized was just another term for what it had been doing in the past.

Plenty of folks were shocked when rumors started spreading that Microsoft wanted to buy Claria, though, the public backlash to the "leaked" rumor was so harsh that Microsoft very quickly backed away from those plans. So, without being able to IPO or sell itself -- and with a still awful reputation as a spyware provider, the company tried to change once again.

The company insisted (yet again) it was getting out of that old sketchy business, and tried to launch a "portal" that would provide relevant content based on how you surfed. In other words: it was still in the spyware business, just positioning it under a better name. The company did try and fail to sell off its traditional adware business.

After that, honestly, we hadn't heard much of a peep out of the company. Despite launching its portal to great fanfare (we were inundated with PR spam from the company about this great "portal" idea), it didn't seem to get any traction. We apparently missed the news that recently the company (through a somewhat complex transaction) changed its name, yet again, to JellyCloud. Basically, the same exec team started a new company just a few months ago, raising another $11.5 million, and then took over Claria, though carefully hid all connections to its past, claiming to be just another online advertising company.

However, Valleywag is now reporting that the company shut down this weekend (despite having just raised all that money, and not counting all the money it raised in the past). If so, it's a rather quiet end for the company that really did become synonymous with the "spyware" term, and helped create that whole space.

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Oct 2008 @ 10:39am

    Don't count them out

    I'll bet that this exec team be up and running a new company shortly with the same business model and products.
    Its like fighting a hydra...

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

  2. identicon
    Lucretious, 1 Oct 2008 @ 10:51am

    The first spyware app I ever fell for was Comet Cursor. If you had it your cursor would have this telltale light blue color (if you weren't using one of their stupid character cursors instead).

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

  3. identicon
    NeoConBushSupporter, 1 Oct 2008 @ 11:22am

    Its not so much the tracking

    Frankly most peoples complaints with adware or spyware is the same as thier overall complaint with software. Most of it doesnt do reliably what it is supposed to do. If comet cusor for example actually gave you some cool animated cursors and tracked you habits, many people wouldnt mind at all. Its real downfall of course was it was authored by blind dyslexic gorillas and it would constantly slow and crash systems. Americans dont really mind being tracked, we have had enough elections to conlude that debate and drop the silly "freedom" and "privacy" slogans.

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

  4. identicon
    PRMan, 1 Oct 2008 @ 11:31am

    Adware vs. Spyware

    Spyware - Being tricked into being tracked
    Adware - Opting-in to being tracked

    Hopefully they continue to fail miserably until they realize that nobody wants that.

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

  5. identicon
    Gullible Fool, 1 Oct 2008 @ 11:58am

    Re: Adware vs. Spyware

    "Hopefully they continue to fail miserably until they realize that nobody wants that."
    Perhaps they will fail miserably when the general population realizes that they don't want that.

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

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Oct 2008 @ 12:13pm

    Wonder if this is related to the recent market woes...or it could be a take the money and run, since they were upstanding business people to begin with!

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

  7. identicon
    Night, 1 Oct 2008 @ 1:22pm


    Speed thee to rest, old acrid soul.

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

  8. identicon
    Max, 1 Oct 2008 @ 8:41pm


    Jellycloud execs now SVP's of Behavioral Targeting for Facebook!

    It's true -- the company didn't just shutdown, the execs and the software have moved over to Facebook as part of their relaunched Beacon spam, er, spyware, er, behavioral targeting programs. Let's face it -- Gator/Claria/Jellycloud/New Facebook -- Zuckerman stole, er, created a better spyware platform but needs a better technology -- they were meant for one another.

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

  9. identicon
    Rich Kulawiec, 2 Oct 2008 @ 7:08am

    They'll be back

    Just like Spamford, who "retired" over and over and over again from one form of abuse, only to take up another one.

    "It's a trick...get an axe."

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

  10. identicon
    Doug Woodall, 2 Oct 2008 @ 8:32am

    As long as theres money to be made

    Max has it so right!
    They are still out there. As long as there is money to be made, they will always be doing their evil.

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

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