Mindspark Interactive Network
|This article may rely excessively on sources too closely associated with the subject, potentially preventing the article from being verifiable and neutral. (September 2014)|
|Headquarters||Yonkers, New York, United States|
|Website||Mindspark Interactive Network|
|Alexa rank||11,661 (April 2015[update])|
Mindspark Interactive Network, Inc. is an operating business unit of IAC and home to hundreds of popular apps across categories such as lifestyle, entertainment and utilities. The company has evolved its product strategy across multiple platforms, with divisions focused on distinct browser, desktop, and mobile market opportunities. Mindspark’s mobile division, mobile developer Apalon which was acquired by Mindspark in 2014, ranks as a top 10 iOS developer of applications worldwide, known for popular apps such as Weather Live, Emoji Keypad, and Calculator Pro. Mindspark’s portfolio includes more than 100 products, with more than 10 product downloads happening every second.
Mindspark's home office is based in Yonkers, NY, with other offices located in Los Angeles, CA; Oakland, CA; New York, NY; Bellevue, WA; D'Iberville, MS; and Minsk, Belarus. Tim Allen and Eric Esterlis serve as the current co-Presidents of Mindspark. Former Mindspark CEO Joey Levin now serves as CEO of IAC Search & Applications, a segment which houses Mindspark, as well as a number of other consumer web properties.
Mindspark Interactive Network was incorporated in 1999 under the name CTC Bulldog, Inc. On January 20, 1999, the idea for its first product, iWon.com, was conceived by its co-founders Bill Daugherty and Jonas Steinman. The project was funded by CBS, and the office opened at Irvington, NY. On October 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.com assets out of bankruptcy. The company then changed its name to The Excite Network.
On Oct 1, 2002, The Excite Network launched 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 November 2015, The myway.com site posted, "After many years, we have decided to shut down the MyWay website. The site will be available until the end of day, December 5th, 2015."
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 Excite.
On Jul 20, 2005, Ask Jeeves was purchased by IAC, and Interactive Search Holdings, Inc. was renamed to IAC Consumer Applications & Portals (“IAC CAP”).
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 Jeeves, 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.
In 2014, Mindspark Interactive Network, Inc acquired SlimWare Utilities, an award-winning community-based, crowd-sourced software product suite dedicated to PC clean-up and optimization. Its flagship product was named PC Magazine’s editors choice for best free tune-up software.
On Nov 3, 2014, Mindspark Interactive Network, Inc acquired mobile app developer Apalon, a top 10 developer of iOS applications worldwide as measured by monthly downloads according to the App Annie Index. Apalon is a leading mobile development company with one of the largest and most popular app portfolios in the world, reaching more than 25 million active users.
Mindspark operates a range of consumer mobile applications, desktop utilities, and browser applications.
Mindspark’s mobile division produces top-rated iOS apps including Weather Live and Pimp Your Screen. The company’s desktop utilities division offers award-winning PC clean up and optimization services.
Its robust portfolio of 100+ browser-based consumer apps include cartoon and 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.
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 or adware. The new version of the MyWebSearch toolbar is more subtle, 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.
As a PUP Distributor
Many, if not all, of Mindspark's programs and toolbars are commonly classified as Potentially Unwanted Programs, or PUPs, which may be installed without the user's explicit knowledge or consent. Many of them exhibit malicious behaviors and can be considered malware. Malwarebytes is an example of a trusted anti malware application that classifies Mindspark's toolbars as PUPs. It should be noted that many self claims made by Mindspark should not necessarily be taken as direct truth. 
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