Idealab was founded by Bill Gross (not the same Bill Gross of PIMCO) in March 1996. Prior to Idealab, he founded GNP Loudspeakers (now GNP Audio Video), an audio equipment manufacturer; GNP Development Inc., acquired by Lotus Software; and Knowledge Adventure, an educational software company, later acquired by Cendant. Gross graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the California Institute of Technology and Idealab has historically hired many alumni; Gross now sits on the Institute's board of trustees.
In December 2009, the company re-branded and introduced a new logo.
Idealab has created, invested in, and spun off a variety of companies including:
- AirWave Wireless, vendor of wireless network management software acquired by Aruba Networks in 2008
- Aptera Motors, electric car manufacturer
- Citysearch, acquired by IAC/InterActiveCorp (NASDAQ: IACI).
- Commission Junction
- Compete, Inc.
- GoTo.com, later renamed Overture Services, now Yahoo! Search Marketing
- Insider Pages, city guides with customer reviews of restaurants, beauty salons, dentists and other local services
- Internet Brands
- NetZero (NASDAQ: UNTD).
- Picasa, acquired by Google
- Scout electromedia (venture investment, 2000)
- Tickets.com (acquired by Major League Baseball Advanced Media)
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