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The LinkExchange logo, circa 1998.

LinkExchange was a popular Internet advertising cooperative, similar in function to a webring, originally known as Internet Link Exchange or ILE.

It was founded in March 1996 by 23-year-old Harvard graduates Tony Hsieh (who later went on to invest in and become the CEO of Zappos) and Sanjay Madan.[1] Ali Partovi later joined them as a third partner in August 1996.[2] Alfred Lin dropped out of his Stanford PhD program to join as CFO.[3] In November 1996, when the company consisted of about 10 people, it moved from Hsieh's and Madan's living room to an office[4] in San Francisco. In May 1997, the company received US$3 million in funding from Sequoia Capital.[5]

In June 1998, LinkExchange acquired MerchantPlanet, an early shopping cart and credit card application.[6] That same month it also acquired Submit It! Inc., developers of Submit It!, ClickTrade, and ListBot.[7]

A LinkExchange in-house advertising banner, circa 1998.

In November 1998, when LinkExchange had 100 employees, it was acquired by Microsoft[8] for US$265 million.[9]

LinkExchange stopped taking new applications on November 15, 2006. On June 4, 2007 it stopped serving banners.[10]


  1. ^ Ni, Perla (May 27, 1999). "The American Dream: Running Your Own Show" (PDF). AsianWeek.
  2. ^ "Ali Partovi on LinkedIn". LinkedIn. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  3. ^ "Alfred Lin Has The Midas Touch: The Man With $2 Billion In Acquisitions Under His Belt". TechCrunch. 28 July 2009. Retrieved 2021-10-15.
  4. ^ "Company Info". Archived from the original on January 28, 1998.
  5. ^ LinkExchange: King of Niche and Reach. Hayden Books. 1998. ISBN 1-56830-414-5. Archived from the original on 2008-07-25. {{cite book}}: |work= ignored (help)[infringing link?]
  6. ^ "LinkExchange buys e-commerce site". Advertising Age. June 22, 1998.
  7. ^ "LinkExchange Acquires Submit It!". ClickZ. June 24, 1998.
  8. ^ "Microsoft Buys LinkExchange For About $250 Million in Stock". Wall Street Journal. November 5, 1998.
  9. ^ "Bios: Tony HsieL".
  10. ^ "Microsoft's bCentral LinkExchange Banner Network Shuts Down". Archived from the original on 2011-11-02.