Controversial Adware Vendors Announce Merger

Consolidation hits the adware space as 180solutions and Hotbar merge to create a new company called Zango.

In the midst of consumer backlash and a stricter legal environment, two well-known adware vendors are merging operations under a new brand.

180Solutions, of Bellevue, Wash., and New York-based Hotbar on June 7 announced a definitive merger that takes effect immediately. The combined entity will carry the controversial Zango name.

Zango is an ad-delivery application created by 180Solutions to serve third-party pop-up advertising to users.

Because it monitors browser usage and tracks surfing activity, it is regularly flagged as a spyware threat by online security scanners.

180Solutions has been accused by the nonprofit CDT (Center for Democracy & Technology) of using "illegal and deceptive practices" to install unwanted software on millions of computers.

In the past, the company has been linked to drive-by downloads and nonconsensual installations through security exploits.

According to the CDT complaint, 180Solutions used a complicated web of affiliate partnerships to deliberately trick consumers into downloading and installing intrusive adware programs.

The group has asked the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) to slap 180Solutions with hefty fines and block the company and its affiliates from future use of the deceptive and unfair installation of software.

Hotbar has also felt the heat from privacy advocates for allegedly using dubious installation practices, such as using spam e-mail or pop-up advertisements to push packages of its adware applications onto users systems, often with scant notice to users about what is being installed.

The company vigorously defended its practices and even filed suit against an anti-virus vendor that flagged its software as a threat. The suit has since been settled.

Following the merger, the company said the new Zango will continue to offer consumers a collection of free, online videos, games, music, tools and utilities through the Hotbar and Zango downloadable products.

"The merger creates increased available inventory and an even larger audience of potential customers whom advertisers can target utilizing Zangos time-shifted ad-delivery model," the company said in a statement.

Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Savvian LLC arranged financing for 180Solutions and Hotbar was advised in this transaction by Cascadia Capital.


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