Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

App Distributor Conduit in Talks for a Billion-Dollar Acquisition, Say Reports

The Israeli tech community is abuzz with talk that Conduit, which distributes toolbar-based Web apps, is in talks to be acquired, potentially by Microsoft or Google, for more than a billion dollars.

Multiple outlets have reported on the supposed sales talks, and while the company hasn’t confirmed them it has gone on the record saying it won’t sell for less than $1 billion. (The comment came from Shaul Olmert, Conduit’s chief marketing officer who is incidentally the son of former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.)

Conduit makes significant money from revenue share of search ads delivered from its toolbars, which it switched to Bing from Google in January.

Sources said the San Mateo, Calif.-based company, which runs much of its operations in Israel, expects revenue of close to $300 million in 2011, so a billion-dollar sale price would not be insane.

Whether or not the talks are actually happening, and with whom, we have not yet confirmed.

Companies and brands that have built apps for the Conduit toolbars include Major League Baseball, Time Warner Cable, Univision, Coke Zero and Groupon. (Zynga used to have one as well so that FarmVille players could be alerted when they needed to return to the game to water their crops, though I could no longer find it in the directory.)

The latest numbers from various reports peg Conduit at 260,000 app publishers, 260 million users and 240 employees. Conduit has raised $9.5 million, mostly from Benchmark Capital. The company recently expanded into mobile app distribution across various devices and platforms.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work