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The classic 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.[citation needed] In November 1996, when the company consisted of about 10 people, it moved from Hsieh's and Madan's living room to an office[2] in San Francisco. In May 1997, the company received US$3 million in funding from Sequoia Capital.[3]

At its peak, the LinkExchange Banner Network reached over half of Internet-enabled households every month, according to Media Metrix.[citation needed]

In June 1998, LinkExchange acquired MerchantPlanet, an early shopping cart and credit card application.[4] That same month it also acquired Submit It! Inc., developers of Submit It!, ClickTrade, and ListBot.[5]

In November 1998, when LinkExchange had 100 employees, it was acquired by Microsoft[6] for US$265 million.[7]

A typical LinkExchange in-house advertising banner, circa 1998.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ni, Perla (May 27, 1999). "The American Dream: Running Your Own Show". AsianWeek. 
  2. ^ "Company Info". Archived from the original on January 28, 1998. 
  3. ^ LinkExchange: King of Niche and Reach. Net Results: Web Marketing That Works (Hayden Books). ISBN 1-56830-414-5. Archived from the original on 2008-07-25. [copyright violation?]
  4. ^ "LinkExchange buys e-commerce site". Advertising Age. June 22, 1998. 
  5. ^ "LinkExchange Acquires Submit It!". ClickZ. June 24, 1998. 
  6. ^ "Acquisition Enables MSN to Reach More Customers". Microsoft News Center. November 5, 1998. 
  7. ^ "Bios: Tony HsieL".