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IndustryComputer software
HeadquartersSedona, Arizona
Key people
Justin Frankel
Tom Pepper
ProductsWinamp, NSIS, and others
OwnerRadionomy Group

Nullsoft, Inc. was an American software house founded in Sedona, Arizona, in 1997 by Justin Frankel. Its products included the Winamp media player and the SHOUTcast MP3 streaming media server. In later years, their open source installer system, the Nullsoft Scriptable Install System (NSIS) became an alternative to commercial products like InstallShield. The company's name is a parody of Microsoft.[1] Mike the Llama is the company's mascot; this is frequently referred to in promotional material (especially for Winamp) citing llamas. Frankel introduced the llama in Winamp's startup sound clip, inspired by the lyrics of Wesley Willis: "Winamp, it really whips the llama's ass!"[1]

Nullsoft was sold to AOL (formerly known as America Online) on June 1, 1999, and thereafter existed as a subsidiary of the company. After the acquisition, Nullsoft headquarters were moved to San Francisco, California. Their later developments included the Nullsoft Streaming Video (NSV) format, which was intended to stream media that used any audio or video codec. In 2002, the press reported a technology called Ultravox being developed by Nullsoft.[2] Nullsoft created the peer-to-peer networks Gnutella and WASTE.[1] Although AOL tried to limit the distribution of Gnutella and WASTE, the Ultravox technology was reportedly used for some AOL radio services in 2003.[3] A service called Nullsoft Television was announced in 2003 using NSV.[4]

Nullsoft released several new versions of the Winamp player and grew its monthly unique subscriber base from 33 million users to over 52 million users by 2005. Nullsoft's San Francisco offices were closed in December 2003, with a near-concurrent departure of Frankel and the original Winamp development team.[1][5] Nullsoft then became a division of AOL Music. In 2013, some AOL Music sites were shut down and others sold to Townsquare Media.[6][7][8]

In November 2013, an unofficial report surfaced that Microsoft was in talks with AOL to acquire Nullsoft.[9] On January 14, 2014, it was officially announced that Belgian online radio aggregator Radionomy had bought Winamp and Shoutcast, formerly owned by Nullsoft. No financial details were publicly announced.[10][11]


  1. ^ a b c d Kushner, David (January 13, 2004). "The World's Most Dangerous Geek". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on March 21, 2007. Retrieved June 7, 2013.
  2. ^ Hu, Jim (June 26, 2002). "AOL aims to supercharge streaming". CNET News. Retrieved June 7, 2013.
  3. ^ "AOL pulls Nullsoft file-sharing software". Flexbeta. May 30, 2003. Archived from the original on September 8, 2004. Retrieved June 7, 2013.
  4. ^ "Nullsoft TV Worldwide Public Access". Archived from the original on February 19, 2003. Retrieved June 7, 2013.
  5. ^ Mook, Nate (November 10, 2004). "Death Knell Sounds for Nullsoft, Winamp". Betanews. Retrieved June 7, 2013.
  6. ^ Constine, Josh (June 2, 2013). "Townsquare Media Acquires Some Doomed AOL Music Sites And Comics Alliance". Techcrunch. Retrieved June 7, 2013.
  7. ^ Cooper, Charles (April 26, 2013). "AOL shuts down music-related services". CNET News. Retrieved June 7, 2013.
  8. ^ Solsman, Joan E. (June 3, 2013). "Radio chain picks up pared-down AOL music sites". CNET News. Retrieved June 7, 2013.
  9. ^ "AOL reportedly wants to sell Winamp to Microsoft". The Verge. Retrieved November 21, 2013.
  10. ^ Lunden, Ingrid (1 January 2014). "AOL Sells Winamp And Shoutcast Music Services To Online Radio Aggregator Radionomy". TechCrunch. AOL.
  11. ^ "Winamp lives on after acquisition by Radionomy". The Verge. Retrieved 14 January 2014.

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