Fascinating article here in BusinessWeek Online with never before published details about Direct Revenue's inner workings and the people involved. There are a lot of juicy tidbits, including how the Dark Arts department crafted software "torpedoes" to kill competitors', other adware vendors, software. Then CEO Joshua Abrams is quoted as saying "it's a license to kill" in a February 2004 email. Direct Revenue was the target of a lawsuit by competitor Avenue Media over that practice. CNET News called it Adware cannibals feast on each other. (Loved the title!)
The article mentions some of Direct Revenue's advertisers including big names Cingular Wireless, J P Morgan Chase, Delta Airlines, all *former* advertisers and Vonage which is apparently still using Direct Revenue. Shame on them! The article states Vonage did not respond to inquiries.
When the terror named Aurora was unleashed by Direct Revenue in spring of 2005, "disaster ensued":
Disaster ensued, as Aurora paralyzed thousands of computers. Matt Oettinger, who ran media operations at Fastclick, an advertising network that bought ads from Direct Revenue, found his home PC afflicted by Aurora, e-mails in court filings show. In June he ordered all Fastclick ads disentangled from Aurora. Branko Krmpotic, the managing director of Technology Investment Capital Corp., which had invested $6.7 million in Direct Revenue, also caught the Aurora bug and couldn't kill it, according to e-mails. Eventually, Direct Revenue had to send its customer support director to fix Krmpotic's machine. After receiving complaints about Aurora, Insight Venture, another major investor, told the company to remove Insight's name from the Direct Revenue Web site. Fastclick declined to comment; Krmpotic didn't return calls.
The company machines were plagued by their own creation as well, with one sales staffer reporting over 30 pop-ups a day and her machine locking up 4 times. At any rate, the article is a great read if you've been following the news on Direct Revenue. If you missed it in April, I blogged that Ben Edelman has posted all the court documents from the New York Attorney General's lawsuit against Direct Revenue -- more fascinating reading can be found there.