The Net’s Largest Stealth Company
In another excellent investigative report, Newsweek’s Brad Stone gets to the bottom of Manhattan-based Direct Revenue, aka OfferOptimizer, aka MyPCTuneup. The adware goliath has a #7 Alexa ranking – higher than even AOL and Stone reports that the company is serving 1.5 billion ad impressions per month. We learn that Direct Revenue is the offspring of a well-funded bubble company – Dash.com, that it has grown rapidly through sneaky practices, and that it is looking to remake itself to comport with congressional legislation. In Early 2004, the company raised $25M from Insight Venture Partners and Technology Investment Capital – it surely didn’t need the money but VCs are respectable company. Stone gets to ask VC Deven Parekh of Insight: Should venture capitalists be funding a company that has engaged in questionable business practices?
As good as Stone’s article is, we have a couple of bones of contention. First, Stone insinuates that there is something unethical about Direct Revenue’s historical elusiveness. But stealth cover is one of the few advantages enjoyed by private companies. Most of the companies funded by Sand Hill these days stay in stealth mode until the time is right. Additionally, Stone’s conclusion seems off-base. He predicts the demise of Direct Revenue. We disagree because we don’t believe that a highly profitable, high growth curve company taking in as much as $100M this year will fold just because Congress passes privacy legislation. It is much easier for a wealthy company like Direct Revenue to adopt to new rules than it is for other startups to locate a revenue stream.
Read – Is This Software on Your Harddrive? (Newsweek)