Mindspark Interactive Network
|Headquarters||Yonkers, New York, United States|
|Website||Mindspark Interactive Network|
|Alexa rank||2,902,785 (December 2013[update])|
Mindspark Interactive Network, Inc. is an operating business unit of IAC/InterActiveCorp focusing on interactive products and web portals. Mindspark's home office is based in Yonkers, NY. Mindspark has other offices located in Los Angeles, CA; Oakland, CA; New York, NY; Bellevue, WA; and Ra'anana, Israel. Joey Levin was appointed from IAC's Senior Vice President to CEO of Mindspark in 2009, succeeding John Park, the previous CEO of Mindspark.
Mindspark Interactive Network was incorporated in 1999 under the name CTC Bulldog, Inc, whose first product, iWon.com, was launched in 1999. On Jan 20, 1999, the idea for iWon.com was conceived over lunch by two co-founders: Bill Daugherty and Jonas Steinman. The project was funded by CBS, and the office opened at Irvington, NY. On Oct 5, 1999, iWon.com was launched and the company name was changed from "CTC Bulldog, Inc." to "iWon.com, Inc.". A press event was held at CBS headquarters.
On Oct 1, 2000, iWon.com, Inc. launched the sales team, and offices were opened in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Chicago. On Nov 18, 2001, the company purchased Excite assets out of bankruptcy. The company then changed its name to The Excite Network.
On Oct 1, 2002, The Excite Network lanuched a new online portal called MyWay.com, which replicated many of Yahoo's popular features without advertisements, fees and intrusive privacy policies. In the same year, the company launched several entertainment products such as SmileyCentral, Cursormania, and PopularScreensavers, and changed its name to Focus Interactive.
In 2003, Focus Interactive changed its name again to Interactive Search Holdings. The company's properties now consisted of iWon.com, Excite.com, My Way, My WebSearch, and online advertising sales firm MaxOnline. In December 2003, properties of Interactive Search Holdings reached 17% of US Internet users. In 2004 Ask Jeeves purchased Interactive Search Holdings for $501 million in a stock and cash deal.
According to a press release issued by Ask Jeeves, Interactive Search Holdings was the 9th most visited property in December 2003, with popular but under-the-radar destinations such as My Way, My Search, My Web Search, iWon and former high-flyer Excite.
IAC CAP is a wholly owned business of IAC/InterActiveCorp [NASDAQ: IACI] that centers on properties that enhance online communication and social networking. On Jun 20, 2006, IAC CAP launched Zwinky, a virtual world in which the users have the opportunity to communicate and play with other people. On Apr 1, 2007, Webfetti.com was launched, allowing users to easily customize their social networking profile pages and blogs. On Apr 1, 2008, IAC CAP acquired StarNet Interactive, an Israeli start-up that created GirlSense. On Aug 1, 2006, Vimeo was acquired by IAC, and became the part of IAC CAP in 2008.
On Jan 1, 2009, IAC Consumer Applications & Portals was renamed to Mindspark Interactive Network, Inc (“Mindspark”). The Ask Partner Network, LLC, formerly a division of Ask.com, became a part of Mindspark. On May 20, 2010, Mindspark bought a majority stake in diet tracking site DailyBurn, which was responsible for Mindspark's fitness products. On Oct 6, 2010, Mindspark announced its Mindspark Worlds division to drive innovation in virtual worlds and social gaming.
In 2011, Mindspark Interactive Network, Inc acquired the gaming platform created by VoxPop, and the platform was attached to its iWon contest and sweepstakes brand.
The interactive products include virtual world Zwinky and Zwinky Cuties; casual game sites such as iWon, Retrogamer.com and GamingWonderland.com; social and entertainment websites such as Webfetti.com, MyWebFace.com, Girlsense.com, PopularScreensavers.com and MyFuncards.com; fitness product DailyBurn; and toolbar products such as Smiley Central, Cursor Mania, Guffins, CouponAlert, and Television Fanatic.
IAC's Toolbar Business
Many of the Mindspark products require the user to install a toolbar. According to the IAC's business strategy, IAC is increasing its “toolbar” business, which places various clickable tools on the browsers of Internet users, and enables IAC to collect a fee each time the toolbar is used.
In the third quarter of 2010, IAC’s search revenue increased 20 percent over the previous year to $205.1 million, while operating income in the search business was up 43 percent to $28.9 million. The increase was a result of the growth in toolbars, according to Sandy Mehta, an analyst at Hong Kong-based Value Investment Principals Ltd. Mehta said in an interview that "the toolbar business is something that’s really growing.”.
The myWebSearch Toolbar also known as MyWay Speedbar, MyWay Education Guide, MyWay Searchbar, MyAllSearch Search Assistant, MyWay Search Assistant or MyWeb Searchbar is a web-browser add-on that provides search function to the browser menu. The toolbar was required in many of Mindspark products, allowing user to query myWebSearch search engine.
myWebSearch Toolbar was previously known as MyWay Searchbar. HP and Dell pre-install this software on some of their commercially sold PCs. Because the older versions of the program displayed pop-up advertisements onto the user’s screen and contained an adware function, and was installed without user's permission, the MyWay Searchbar was once classified as spyware and/or adware. The new version of the MyWebSearch toolbar is more subtle however, in that it does not display pop-up ads, arguably does not contain the adware function, and can only be installed when user clicked the installer, McAfee, Norton and many other antivirus software marked it as a safe program.
The software is still regarded as a potentially unwanted program by some security companies such as Malwarebytes and SUPERAntiSpyware because, for example, its install defaults are obnoxious, and many people claim that it is hard to uninstall. Mindspark does, however, have a removal tutorial on its website.
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