Internet Brands

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IndustryInternet media
FoundedJune 27, 1998; 24 years ago (1998-06-27)[1] (as CarsDirect)
HeadquartersEl Segundo, California, U.S.
Area served
Key people
Robert Brisco, President and CEO
ProductsConsumer websites; software applications
RevenueIncrease US$1.6billion (2020)[citation needed]
Increase US$1 billion (2020)[citation needed]
Increase US$220 million (2020)[citation needed]
OwnerKohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. L.P.

MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands is an American new media company based in El Segundo, California, United States, that operates online media, community, and e-commerce sites in vertical markets. The company also develops and licenses internet software and social media applications.


The company operates two divisions: consumer internet and licensing.

Consumer Internet division[edit]

The consumer internet division owns and operates more than 95 websites in seven categories. The company attracts more than 62 million unique visitors per month, with 97% of the audience originating from organic, non-paid sources.[2][3][4] The company's strategy is to focus on specific target audiences that tend to be attractive to advertisers.[5][6][7]

On December 1, 2010, Internet Brands acquired and, both founded by Arvind A. Raichur.[8]

SEC filings indicate that approximately 70% of the company's revenues are derived from advertising from more than 40,000 accounts—most of them small and medium enterprises.

The company's portfolio of websites include many with social media features: social network services, user generated content, blogs, wikis, and internet forums.[9][10]


The company was founded in 1998 as, launched from the business incubator Idealab. The company invented a consumer-advocacy approach to selling cars "haggle-free" online, an approach it continues to employ.[11] In 2000, Roger Penske invested in the company and joined the Board of Directors. In 2002, Time Magazine voted the site one of the 50 best in the world.[12]

The company changed its name to Internet Brands in 2005.[13] The company's IPO was in November 2007 on the NASDAQ exchange.[14] INET was added to the NASDAQ Internet Index on March 22, 2010.[15]

Internet Brands agreed to be acquired for $640 million by the private equity firm Hellman & Friedman in September 2010[16][17] and was thus delisted from NASDAQ.[18]

In September 2012, Internet Brands became involved in a legal battle with the Wikimedia Foundation (the operators of Wikipedia) over the future of Wikitravel's community.[19][20][21]

Internet Brands was acquired in June 2014 by KKR from Hellman & Friedman for 1.1 billion dollars.[22] KKR is making its investment in partnership with Internet Brands chief executive officer Bob Brisco and the Internet Brands management team, who will hold a minority stake in the company and continue to run the business.[23]

In January 2016, Intuit Inc. announced an agreement to sell Demandforce to Internet Brands.[24]


vBulletin criticism[edit]

In October 2009, Internet Brands changed the pricing structure for its vBulletin software, prompting complaints from registered users on the official forums. According to The Register those who complained were then banned from both the forums and from receiving support and updates, despite still having valid licences for the product.[25] Internet Brands defended their position to The Register in a separate article; however, a later update to the same article stated that at least some of Internet Brands' claims were false.[26]

vBulletin and XenForo[edit]

In October 2010, Internet Brands announced that it would file a lawsuit against the XenForo team claiming copyright infringement; specifically that code in XenForo was based on vBulletin code, breach of contract, and engaging in unfair business practices.[27] In November 2010, Internet Brands sued Kier Darby, a lead developer of XenForo, who had previously served as a lead developer for Internet Brands' vBulletin, claiming that Kier had not returned confidential information from Internet Brands regarding the vBulletin software. The XenForo team has denied the claims.[28] In February 2013, the lawsuit was dismissed.[29]

Wikitravel and Wikimedia[edit]

In 2012, after a lengthy history of dissatisfaction, community members at Internet Brands-owned website Wikitravel began discussing whether to fork (split off) of their work and editing activities from Wikitravel and recommence their editing activities at another website host.[30][31] The dissatisfaction related to long standing discontent at poor hosting, poor site updates, and excessive over-monetarization and advertising, and eventually, interference by Internet Brands in the community's activities in breach of prior agreements and understandings.[32]

Forking is a normal or anticipated activity in wiki communities and is permitted by the Creative Commons license in use on sites such as Wikitravel, and the wiki software used by Wikitravel included the facility to take 'database "dumps"' for that purpose.[32] This mirrored the fork of the German and Italian language Wikitravel communities some years earlier, which led to a new travel wiki site called Wikivoyage. Members of the communities concerned decided that the community at Wikitravel would move its editing efforts to merge with Wikivoyage, to create a new travel wiki to be hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation, the owner of Wikipedia and a large range of other non-profit reference sites based upon a wiki community.[33][34][35][36]

The merge and move were endorsed by the editing community,[37] but opposed by Internet Brands who litigated against two users it accused of unlawful actions related to the proposal. The allegations were strongly rejected by the individuals and the (non-party) Wikimedia Foundation who stated the case was an example of a SLAPP lawsuit intended to deter and frustrate lawful conduct.[38] On November 19, 2012, the claims by Internet Brands were dismissed by the United States District Court for the Central District of California.[39]

Greenlight Financial Services[edit]

In April 2013, on behalf of its client Greenlight Financial Services, Inc., the Rhema Law Group won a jury verdict trial against Internet Brands, Inc. The Orange County Superior Court jury found that Internet Brands breached a previous settlement agreement between the parties and awarded lost profits damages in the amount of $750,000.[40]

Model Mayhem[edit] is a social media website where models can create profiles and publish pictures. In May 2008 Internet Brands bought Model Mayhem from the original developers Donald and Tyler Waitt.[41] Model Mayhem was involved in the court case Jane Doe No. 14 v. Internet Brands, Inc., where litigants argued that Model Mayhem was liable for damages resulting from crimes committed by users on the website.[41][42][43][44]


  1. ^ " WHOIS, DNS, & Domain Info - DomainTools". WHOIS. Retrieved July 1, 2016.
  2. ^ "Internet Brands 2009 SEC Form 10-K filing". Internet Brands.
  3. ^ SECInvestor. "Point Your Portfolio to Internet Brands". Archived from the original on February 4, 2011.
  4. ^ SeekingAlpha. "The Number One Internet Stock You've Never Heard of".
  5. ^ New York Times (June 26, 2006). "As Online Ads Grow, Eyeballs Are Valuable Again on the Web". The New York Times. Retrieved June 26, 2006.
  6. ^ Investopedia. "Internet Brands Thrives Under Google's Shadow". Archived from the original on May 6, 2008. Retrieved April 22, 2008.
  7. ^ Small Cap Investor. "Internet Brands a Step in a different direction".
  8. ^ Internet Brands Press Release. "Internet Brands Acquires Assets of and".[permanent dead link]
  9. ^ U.S. News & World Report. "The Next Internet Gold Rush". Retrieved August 28, 2006.
  10. ^ Internet, Brands. "Internet brands goes into overdrive: Web 2.0 company is on a buying binge". Retrieved March 18, 2008.
  11. ^ CarsDirect. "Initial Test of Online Car Buying". Archived from the original on December 31, 2008.
  12. ^ Time Magazine (January 4, 2002). "Time Magazine's 50 Best Websites". Archived from the original on June 4, 2002. Retrieved May 5, 2010.
  13. ^ Internet, Brands. "CarsDirect Becomes Internet Brands". Archived from the original on July 10, 2007. Retrieved June 16, 2005.
  14. ^ Internet, Brands. "Internet Brands IPO data". Archived from the original on January 10, 2009. Retrieved November 21, 2008.
  15. ^ Agentmonhost. "Internet Brands added to NASDAQ Internet Index". Archived from the original on December 5, 2014. Retrieved November 27, 2014.
  16. ^ Reuters (September 20, 2010). "Internet Brands to be acquired for $640 mln".
  17. ^ Hellman & Friedman. "Internet Brands agrees to be acquired by Hellman & Friedman". Archived from the original on September 24, 2010.
  18. ^ Taulli, Tom (September 21, 2010). "Internet Brands Goes Private, Again". DailyFinance. Retrieved November 5, 2013.
  19. ^ "Wikimedia Foundation seeks declaratory relief in response to legal threats from Internet Brands". Wikimedia Foundation. September 6, 2012. Retrieved September 8, 2012.
  20. ^ "Internet Brands vs. William Ryan Holliday" (PDF). Internet Brands. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 16, 2012. Retrieved September 8, 2012.
  21. ^ "Wikimedia Foundation vs. Internet Brands" (PDF). Wikimedia Foundation. Retrieved September 8, 2012.
  22. ^ Silver, Elliot (June 3, 2014). "Internet Brands to be Acquired for $1.1 Billion".
  23. ^ "Internet Brands to Be Acquired by KKR". MarketWatch. Retrieved July 18, 2015.
  24. ^ "Internet Brands to Acquire Demandforce" (Press release). January 15, 2016.
  25. ^ "Forum king vBulletin muzzles paid-up protesters". Retrieved November 5, 2013.
  26. ^ "vBulletin denies busting downloads in paid-up protester ban". Retrieved November 5, 2013.
  27. ^ Metz, Cade. "vBulletin sues ex-devs over 'from scratch' competitor". The Register. Retrieved November 6, 2010.
  28. ^ Metz, Cade. "Forumware giant vBulletin sues ex-devs (again)". The Register. Retrieved November 6, 2010.
  29. ^ "NewsXF". February 27, 2013. Archived from the original on March 3, 2013. Retrieved November 5, 2013.
  30. ^ "Wikivoyage - Meta". Retrieved November 5, 2013.
  31. ^ "Wikivoyage - Meta". Retrieved November 5, 2013.
  32. ^ a b Migration FAQ at Wikivoyage, 25 October 2012
  33. ^ "Travellers' pub". Wikitravel. Retrieved November 5, 2013.
  34. ^ "Wikivoyage - Meta". Retrieved November 5, 2013.
  35. ^ "Wikivoyage Association - Meta". Retrieved November 5, 2013.
  36. ^ "Wikivoyage-l Info Page". Retrieved November 5, 2013.
  37. ^ "Requests for comment/Travel Guide - Meta". Retrieved November 5, 2013.
  38. ^ Noam Cohen. "Travel Site Built on Wiki Ethos Now Bedevils Its Owner". The New York Times.
  39. ^ "Internet Brands Inc versus Ryan Holliday et al" (PDF). United States District Court for the Central District of California. Retrieved December 16, 2012.
  40. ^ "Rhema Law Group Wins Jury Trial Verdict Against Internet Brands, Inc". Archived from the original on October 31, 2013. Retrieved November 5, 2013.
  41. ^ a b Kashmir Hill (August 18, 2014). "Modeling Website Didn't Warn Users Rapists Were Preying On Them". Forbes. Retrieved September 15, 2015.
  42. ^ Allie Conti (August 26, 2015). "The Rape Victim Who Is Challenging One of the Fundamental Laws of the Internet". Retrieved September 15, 2015.
  43. ^ "FBI — Two Men Sentenced to Multiple Life Terms for Enticing Women to South Florida to Engage in Commercial Sex Acts While Under the Influence of Date Rape Drugs". Https. February 17, 2012. Retrieved September 15, 2015.
  44. ^ "High-severity vulnerability in vBulletin is being actively exploited".

External links[edit]