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.