|Last week there was some controversy online about a company we
funded called InstallMonetizer. IM makes software that companies
can put in their Windows installers that offers other software to
the user as part of the install process.|
It's unclear exactly how much of a right we as investors have to
tell the companies we fund what to do. But on the other hand we
don't like the idea that someone we funded might be doing something
illicit, so we felt like we should at least investigate the claims
and if there was a problem, try to convince IM to fix it.
Here's a list of things people said about IM or similar products,
and what we discovered about each:
1. They make "drive-by installers." A drive-by installer installs
software without the user's knowledge. This accusation is false.
Other companies in this business do such things, but IM doesn't.
Every IM install screen has a decline as well as an accept button,
and if the user declines, no software is installed.
2. The apps that get installed are "crapware." This one seems a
matter of opinion. A lot of the world's most popular apps and sites
seem like junk to us. But the users are choosing to install these
3. IM "monitors and uploads user’s ongoing usage activity of the
bundled crapware." This fact is disclosed in the IM EULA (which
admittedly probably no one reads), but more importantly isn't used
for any money-making purpose. The usage info is (a) collected only
for the first 30 minutes and (b) is only used to prove to the
advertiser that the install is by a human and not a bot.
4. "This surprisingly includes not only IP but the globally unique
MAC addresses." This information also isn't used for marketing
purposes, only if advertisers request it to clear up discrepancies
in dowload figures. We asked IM to switch to uploading hashes of
the IP and MAC address instead, and they are going to start doing
5. Comments on HN mentioned that a lot of companies in this business
wrap OSS in violation of the license terms. When we asked IM, they
scanned their publishers and found that 6% of them were doing this.
Those publishers have been banned from using IM, and all future
publishers will be thoroughly screened for ownership of their
6. Comments on HN also pointed out that some apps installed by this
type of installer are excessively hard to uninstall-- e.g. because
when you try to uninstall them, they re-install themselves. This
again is something that while common practice in this industry, IM
won't do. They ban advertisers who do such things.