Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Conduit on the Record: Yes, We're Buying Wibiya; No, We're Not Getting Bought

Conduit, the branded toolbar distributor, has been the subject of many rumors and “sources say” stories and blog posts in the last week. Today, Adam Boyden, the company’s president, went on the record with us to clear up what’s real and what’s rumor mill.

First of all, Boyden said, Conduit is not in talks to be acquired. The common scenario echoed in many media reports, most of them coming out of Israel (where Conduit runs much of its operations), was that Conduit was entertaining interest from suitors–including Microsoft and Google–and could be bought for more than $1 billion.

“The company is courted by all sorts of people all the time but we are certainly not in active discussions with anyone,” Boyden said. Pressed to clarify, he added, “There are absolutely no discussions that are going on. It’s completely not true. And we haven’t had discussions that were put on hold.”

However, Conduit is indeed buying Wibiya for $45 million, Boyden said, as had been reported by TechCrunch, citing anonymous sources who said a deal could be reached soon. Update: Boyden wanted to clarify that the Wibiya acquisition agreement has not yet been signed, as of Wednesday.

Wibiya also offers toolbars for publishers to make their sites and blogs more social and interactive. It, too, is based in Israel, and has raised about $2.5 million from backers including Primera Capital.

Boyden said Conduit deserves credit for Bing’s recent growth, which follows Conduit making Bing its default search engine at the beginning of this year. Microsoft had 13.6 percent search share in February, up from 12.0 percent in December. “We were much behind that,” Boyden said.

Conduit, which is backed by Benchmark Capital, counts 260,000 app publishers–including Major League Baseball, Time Warner Cable, Univision, Coke Zero and Groupon–and 260 million users. It is expected to bring in hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue in 2011.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik