WhenU – Profile
HQ: New York, NY
Management: CEO is Bill Day who was founder and CEO of About.com and was with Prodigy before that. Co-founder Avi Naider was with the private equity firm AEA Investors. Ralph Terkowitz is on the board – he is a general partner at ABS Capital Partners, former CEO of WashingtonPost.com and current vice-Chairman of TrustE.
Investors: In April 2005, WhenU raised $20M in Series A equity from ABS Capital Partners.
Business Model: WhenU is a leading adware company and, along with others in the space, has moved into contextual adware. WhenU pays distributors for installations of its ad-serving client from which it serves contextual ads to users. Most WhenU installations are bundled with screen savers and file-sharing software. It’s a high margin business and the company claims sales of $50M in 2004.
Competitors: Claria, Direct Revenue.
Dirt: WhenU and other adware companies have advertisers clamoring to get on board because their rates are so much less than Google and elsewhere and because they offer price-per-performance models. Nevertheless, for the consumer the experience is a disaster. WhenU has been fairly successful at PR, separating itself from the adware pack by trying to show greater respect the consumer. Indeed, WhenU is showing more respect by disconintuing activeX installations, etc., however, the company soiled its pants for so long with lousy consumer-facing opeations that it continues to stink. Furthermore, WhenU still relies on distribution by convincing people who don’t know better to agree to their End User License Agreement (EULA), when all the consumer wants is that Pamela Anderson screen saver and now the consumer is stuck with adware that they don’t know how to remove. WhenU and others in adware are cash machines, but all are suffering from lawsuits and adware scanning applications. An IPO is unlikely and it’s hard to see who would acquire WhenU.