Conduit (publisher network and platform)

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Conduit Ltd.
Type Private
Industry
Founded 2005
Founder(s)
  • Ronen Shilo
  • Dror Erez
  • Gaby Bilcyzk
Headquarters New York City, United States; Ness Ziona, Israel[1]
Area served Worldwide
Revenue $200m (2013)[2]
Employees 400+ (2011)[3]
Website www.conduit.com

Conduit is a browser hijack[4] and an online platform that allows web publishers to create custom toolbars, web apps, and mobile apps at no cost.[5][6] Conduit has approximately 260,000 registered publishers who have collectively created content downloaded by more than 250 million end users.[7][8][9] Web apps and pieces of content developed through Conduit's platform can be distributed and exchanged online via the Conduit App Marketplace.[10][11] Currently, 60 million users consume apps from the marketplace on a daily basis.[12]

Conduit's toolbars have been described in online forums and news outlets as a malware[13][14] and are difficult to remove.[15][16] The company began to shift away from this part of its business in late 2013 when it spun off its toolbar division into Perion Network through a reverse merger.[17]

Company

Overview

Conduit is based in Ness Ziona, Israel with offices in New York City.[18] Currently, the company has over 400 employees.[3] It was initially backed by $9.5 million from Benchmark Capital and Yozma Group,[19] and is the second largest technology company in Israel with a valuation of approximately $1.4 billion.[20][21] Other valuations have placed the company value as high as $2.5 billion.[22] Conduit is the largest Internet company in Israel, with more than 260 million users.[23] The founders have stated that they plan on keeping the headquarters in Israel as the company grows.[24] It was named #24 on the Business Insider 2012 Digital 100.[25]

History

Conduit was founded in 2005 by Ronen Shilo, Dror Erez, and Gaby Bilcyzk.[26] Shilo, who founded the company with his own money,[3] is now the CEO of Conduit.[27] In 2010 Conduit then-president Adam Boyden was featured in Forbes Magazine online, in which he discussed the link between successful social gaming and marketing principles.[28] In 2010 there were more than 100 million toolbars being powered by Conduit that were used at least once a month, which put Conduit at #29 on Google’s list of top 1,000 sites on the Internet that year.[29] In May 2011, Conduit completed the $45 million acquisition of Israeli startup Wibiya, an engagement platform that enables publishers to integrate a variety of web applications on their site via the Wibiya Bar product.[30] In April 2012, J.P. Morgan purchased a $100 million[31] 7% stake in Conduit[32] from Yozma.[3]

The resulting valuation of $1.3 billion saw Conduit become the first Israel-based billion dollar Internet company,[33] and was highlighted by the Wall Street Journal as a part of the 2012 entries into the "$1 Billion Start-Up Club".[34] The company uses a co-sale concept to provide dividends to employees as well as investors over time.[35] In September 2013 Conduit spun off its Client Connect business division, which then combined with Perion Network in a reverse merger. After the deal, Conduit shareholders owned 81% of Perion's existing shares.[36]

During this time Conduit moved away from the toolbar part of its business in order to focus on its mobile and browser engagement offerings. Ingrid Lunden of TechCrunch wrote that by spinning off the Client Connect business, the "split divided the company in two, with one part focusing on its mobile and engagement business and run by Shilo, and the other, Client Connect, merging with Perion". Lunden said further that, "Less than a month after browser-toolbar and mobile startup Conduit merged its Client Connect division with Perion, the company is making another change to its business. Conduit has announced that it will be discontinuing Wibiya, the social browser toolbar service that it acquired in 2011 for $45 million, as it shifts further away from its toolbar business."[37] In late 2013 Conduit was valued at $1.5 billion.[38]

Technology

Browser

Until 2013, one of Conduit's main businesses revolved around downloadable toolbars. Conduit allowed publishers to create and distribute their own toolbars for web browsers.[29] Typically the toolbars were installed with another software product on which the toolbar is a piggyback program,[39][40] with users given the option to not install the toolbar. Browsers that initially supported the toolbars included Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari. Google Chrome was added as a supported browser in 2011.

Examples of toolbars have included a Zynga-designed toolbar that helps Farmville enthusiasts keep up-to-date with the status of their game, another is a toolbar from eBay that provides auction updates. The content is customized to the individual toolbar rather than generalized for all users. The toolbar can also be used for general information distribution as well, which has been used by companies to engage in marketing campaigns.[29] Other companies that have developed Conduit toolbars include Major League Baseball, Greenpeace, and Lufthansa.[41] Some of the companies and brands that have used Conduit's platform are Major League Baseball, Time Warner Cable, Fox News, Zynga,[42] Chelsea Football Club, Groupon, Travelocity, µTorrent, and The Weather Channel.[9][12][43] The toolbars have been described in online forums and news outlets as a browser hijack[39][40][44][45][46] and are difficult to remove.[47]

Mobile

Although Conduit’s focus was initially on connecting publishers with end users via the browser, the company has since introduced a cross-platform mobile development kit that allows users to create native and web mobile applications for all major smartphone platforms and iPad in February 2011.[48][49] As of December 2011, Conduit Mobile has added several new features to the product that are targeted towards musicians, including SoundCloud integration.[7] At first Conduit's partners provide their apps and use of the app-creation platform to users for free, but requires a percentage of the advertising revenue generated from apps created with its software.[50] The company now provides its platform with a paid subscription model. These apps and specialty toolbars include player-branded products, featuring particular players from leagues including the NFL, Warner Brothers, and major league soccer in Europe.[51] Conduit has also developed the service QuickLaunch, which allows companies to design custom lock-screens for mobile devices. The screen allows users to customize their device’s lock screen, providing one-click access to calls, content, or featured websites.[52]

References

  1. ^ "Locations". Retrieved January 28, 2014. 
  2. ^ Hoffman, Tzahi (3 April 2011). "ConduIT in talks to buy toolbar developer Wibiya". Globes. 
  3. ^ a b c d Jeremy Quittner (January 1, 2013). "The "Real Valuation" Is About Having Fun". Inc. Magazine. Retrieved March 13, 2013. 
  4. ^ Pilici, Stelian (January 21, 2013). "Remove Conduit Toolbar and search.conduit.com (Uninstall Guide)". Malware tips. Retrieved July 13, 2014. 
  5. ^ Wonham, Linc (February 24, 2011). "Conduit's Web App Network Goes Mobile". Website Magazine. Retrieved May 18, 2012. 
  6. ^ Fried, Ina (February 7, 2011). "Exclusive: Web App Publisher Conduit Expands Into Mobile". All Things Digital. Retrieved May 18, 2012. 
  7. ^ a b "Conduit Mobile Enters The Music App Creation Wars". Music Ally. November 14, 2011. Retrieved December 19, 2011. 
  8. ^ Nakano, Chelsi (July 16, 2010). "Conduit Network Boosts Browser-Based Apps in a Big Way". CMS Wire. Retrieved May 16, 2011. 
  9. ^ a b Dunaway, Gavin (May 13, 2011). "Big Names Grace Conduit's App Platform". ADOTAS. Retrieved May 16, 2011. 
  10. ^ Knight, Kristina (May 4, 2010). "Conduit's App Marketplace pushes past 100 million users". BizReport. Retrieved May 16, 2011. 
  11. ^ Hardawar, Devindra (June 4, 2010). "Conduit announces Google Chrome support for its massive app platform". VentureBeat. Retrieved May 16, 2011. 
  12. ^ a b Wauters, Robin (July 13, 2010). "Conduit Reports Big Numbers: 250,000 App Publishers, 170 Million Users". TechCrunch. Retrieved May 16, 2011. 
  13. ^ "How do I uninstall Search Protect by Conduit from my computer?". Norton. 2014-07-14. Retrieved 2014-07-11. 
  14. ^ "PUP.Optional.Conduit removal instructions". Malware Removal Guides. 2013-08-07. Retrieved 2013-10-12. 
  15. ^ Griffith, Erin (September 14, 2012). "Conduit Turns Toolbar Riches Into Massive Dividend". PandoDaily. Retrieved 2014-07-14. 
  16. ^ ', Kapersky Labs support pages, December 19, 2013.
  17. ^ Feldman, Yaniv (July 10, 2013). "Israeli toolbar giant Conduit expected to split and acquire Perion". Geektime. 
  18. ^ Grimland, Guy (January 4, 2011). "Israeli startup Conduit with more users than Twitter negotiating billion-dollar exit". Haaretz. Retrieved May 16, 2011. 
  19. ^ McMahan, Ty (July 7, 2014). "Burgers and Acquisitions: Lunch in NYC Leads to a Deal in Israel". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved July 14, 2014. 
  20. ^ "Three biggest internet companies in each country". The Economist. March 18, 2012. Retrieved April 8, 2012. 
  21. ^ Goldenberg, Roy (March 18, 2012). "Yozma Sells 3% of Conduit for $39m". Globes. Retrieved April 8, 2012. 
  22. ^ Shmulik Shelach, Roy Goldenberg and Gali Weinreb (February 9, 2012). "Huge exit beckons for Conduit shareholders". Globes. Retrieved April 9, 2013. 
  23. ^ Ronen Shilo (March 2, 2012). "A CEO Speaks Out About Speaking Out". FastCompany. Retrieved March 13, 2013. 
  24. ^ Ty McMahan (November 18, 2011). "Burgers And Acquisitions: Lunch In NYC Leads To A Deal In Israel". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved March 13, 2013. 
  25. ^ Alyson Shontell (October 3, 2012). "The 2012 Digital 100: The Complete List 1–100". Business Insider. Retrieved March 13, 2013. 
  26. ^ Cooper, Steve (January 2, 2009). "Conduit Builds on the Power of the Web Toolbar". TheStreet.com. Retrieved May 16, 2011. 
  27. ^ Lydia Dishman (June 21, 2012). "How To Survive An Acquisition And Live Profitably Ever After". FastCompany. Retrieved March 13, 2013. 
  28. ^ "Discussion of the Week: Adam Boyden". Forbes Magazine. August 27, 2010. Retrieved March 13, 2013. 
  29. ^ a b c Jon Fortt (June 3, 2010). "Browser toolbars are back". CNN. Retrieved March 13, 2013. 
  30. ^ Gannes, Liz (May 23, 2011). "Conduit Buys Wibiya for $45M". All Things Digital. Retrieved December 19, 2011. 
  31. ^ "J.P. Morgan fund to take $100M stake in Conduit". Silicon Valley Business Journal. April 11, 2012. Retrieved March 13, 2013. 
  32. ^ "Make your own Angry Birds". The Economist. July 21, 2012. Retrieved March 13, 2013. 
  33. ^ Lisa Damast and Jessica McHugh (June 6, 2012). "Israeli VC struggles continue despite M&A increase". Financial Times. Retrieved March 13, 2013. 
  34. ^ Scott Austin (May 18, 2012). "The $1 Billion Start-Up Club List, Minus Facebook". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved March 13, 2013. 
  35. ^ "Conduit to pay $300M dividend to investors, employees". Ynet News. March 25, 2013. Retrieved April 9, 2013. 
  36. ^ Matthew Kanterman and Elliott Gotkine (September 17, 2013). "Perion With Conduit Seen Besting AOL in U.S. Searches". Bloomberg News. Retrieved December 16, 2013. 
  37. ^ Ingrid Lunden (October 7, 2013). "After Buying Wibiya For $45M, Conduit Discontinues Product As It Shifts Away From Toolbars". TechCrunch. 
  38. ^ Orr Hirschauge and Inbal Orpaz (September 16, 2013). "$800 million company formed by Perion-Conduit merger". Haaretz. Retrieved February 12, 2014. 
  39. ^ a b "How to Remove Conduit Search Toolbar and search.conduit.com redirect?". Anvisoft. 2013-06-07. Archived from the original on 2 July 2013. Retrieved 2013-08-13. "Search.conduit.com always disguises itself as Google Official search, when you open your hijacked web browser" 
  40. ^ a b Govind, Rajesh (19 February 2013). "How to uninstall Conduit Toolbar and change the IE10 homepage from "search.conduit.com" to the original one.". Microsoft Community. Microsoft. Retrieved 18 August 2013. "This toolbar might have got installed on your computer with some other programs and that might have changed your homepage without your knowledge." 
  41. ^ Steve Strauss (June 28, 2009). "To get ahead in this e-world: Create and market content". USA Today. Retrieved March 13, 2013. 
  42. ^ Wauters, Robin (April 2, 2011). "Conduit Acquires Web Application Platform Wibiya For $45 Million: Sources". TechCrunch. Retrieved May 16, 2011. 
  43. ^ "Israeli Startup Wibiya Will Be Acquired By Conduit For Whopping 45$ Million". Technology Noise. April 3, 2011. Retrieved May 16, 2011. 
  44. ^ Nobels, Ethan C. (2010-12-15). "So long, uTorrent". First Arkansas News. Archived from the original on 29 September 2012. Retrieved 2013-04-30. "... directs searches through Conduit and sends results favoring some of the company’s marketing partners." 
  45. ^ "Uninstalling Toolbars, 'Free Trials'". U-T San Diego. 26 October 2013. Retrieved 14 November 2013. 
  46. ^ Payal Dhar (21 October 2013). "A browser hijack is no joyride". Financial Chronicle. Retrieved 14 November 2013. 
  47. ^ Kessler, Topher (7 January 2011). "How to remove the Conduit 'Community Toolbar' in OS X". CNET. CBS Interactive. Archived from the original on 11 October 2012. Retrieved 14 August 2013. "A number of people have installed this plug-in but then have run into roadblocks when trying to uninstall it" 
  48. ^ Fried, Ina (February 7, 2011). "Exclusive: Web App Publisher Conduit Expands Into Mobile". All Things Digital. Retrieved December 19, 2011. 
  49. ^ Grimland, Guy (June 3, 2011). "Conduit Mobile Platform Now Supports iPad App Creation, Social Features". CMSWire. Retrieved December 19, 2011. 
  50. ^ John Pullen (May 10, 2012). "There's an App Maker for That". Entrepreneur Magazine. Retrieved March 13, 2013. 
  51. ^ Neal Ungerleider (January 23, 2012). "Hashtag Hail Mary: Social Media Blitzes The Super Bowl". FastCompany. Retrieved March 13, 2013. 
  52. ^ Kate Freeman (March 27, 2012). "Phone Lock-Screen App Offers Prime Opportunity for Branding [VIDEO]". Mashable. Retrieved April 9, 2013. 

External links