The often scrutinized adware company 180solutions announced that effective immediately it will merge with Hotbar and rename the newly combined entity Zango. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Zango will provide the combined offerings of both companies, including various games, videos, music, icons, electronic greeting cards, browser and email toolbars, and other utilities.
"The vision \[of Zango\] is to deliver consumers free, online entertainment experiences while automating and monetizing the ecosystem of content creators, publisher and webmaster entrepreneurs and advertisers. This merger is a significant milestone in those efforts," said Keith Smith, CEO of the newly formed Zango.
180solution has been frequently targeted by anti-adware and anti-spyware advocates, some of whom accused the company of installing software on computers without properly informing the user beforehand. The company has also been criticized regarding its affliliates who are said to have improperly installed adware on computers.
In January 2006 the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) filed a pair of detailed complaints with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). One complaint cataloged what the CDT referred to as 180solutions' unethical practices over the past several years. The other targeted 180solutions relationship with CJB.NET, a 180solutions affiliate who allegedly used deceptive practices to install 180solutions' software onto unsuspecting users' computers.
Hotbar has experienced its own share of heat too. Symantec filed suit against Hotbar in June 2005 after Hotbar repeatedly threatened to sue Symantec for classifying Hotbar's software as adware. Symantec eventually settled the suit in February 2006 and continues to label Hotbar's software as adware, although it does so while citing the software as "low risk."
In March 2006 180solutions announced its endorsement of and support for the new "Best Practices for Adware" standards issued this week by the Interactive Travel Services Association (ITSA), a Washington, D.C.-area association of online travel-related companies.
At the time Smith said, "As part of our commitment to best practices, 180solutions' consumers are not only required to provide informed consent before installing our software, but we also provide consumers with a post-installation confirmation message, a reminder of install within 72 hours, an additional reminder 90 days after install, and further reminders every 90 days thereafter."
Prior to the merger 180solutions claimed to have over 20 million users of its ad-based software. Hotbar claimed to have over 10 million users.