Adware maker WhenU 'exploring' options

Adware developer WhenU has hired an investment bank to explore strategic partnerships and investment options, CNET News.com has learned.

WhenU CEO Avi Naider confirmed on Wednesday that the privately held company has hired Perseus Group, a San Francisco-based investment bank recently formed by former Robertson Stephenson executives. He declined to discuss WhenU's specific plans, saying the move aims to take advantage of rising interest in the desktop advertising software business.

"There's a lot of strategic alternatives we're exploring in the interest of taking the company to the next level," he said. According to one venture capitalist familiar with WhenU's plans, Perseus is seeking $50 million from investors to buy out the company's founders and put in fresh capital. About $30 million would go toward the buyout, and $20 million would be infused into operations, according to the source, who asked to remain anonymous.

WhenU develops controversial advertising software that is bundled with popular free downloads such as BearShare, a file-swapping client. In exchange for using the free software, Web surfers must agree to install software that monitors their Web surfing activity and delivers targeted ads. WhenU's advertising practices have landed it in legal hot water, however. Several Internet operators are suing the company for selling and distributing pop-up ads that appear over their Web sites and promote products of their rivals. Companies such as 1-800-Contacts claim that WhenU's ad practices violate their copyrights and trademarks.

News source: C|net

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