You may of course defend the product on technical grounds (accept buttons, EULAs, etc) but I find it hard to believe that you truly think it is anything but a nuisance to end-users.
The whole world of Windows software seems pretty grim, and when people get something for free or cheap they're often willing to click through a bunch of buttons to get it, but as far as I can tell IM isn't actually misleading anyone. E.g. as far as I can tell it's no worse than all the upsells people have to click through to register domains on GoDaddy.
I don't think the average HN user is really interested in having InstallMonetizer change their business practices (it seems futile to form a witch hunt against one of many companies).
Currently, the OP above makes it looks as though YC did invest in InstallMonetizer and that you endorse their current practices and are defending them against the mass of hate.
I think a better way of handling this would be to make it clear that engaging in questionable business practices is not the way to get funded by YC, and distance yourself as much as possible from these guys.
Just my two cents, FWIW.
pg, the world of Windows software is grim, but mostly it's because majority of users are not tech-savvy. It's not that they are willing or not to click through buttons, they simply don't know what they're doing. I've seen this countless of times, and cleaned up many more computers from the results of such installations. IM might not be misleading anyone, but it's mostly because you cannot mislead a person who doesn't even listen to you.
All in all, whether or not IM will make Windows software space worse depends strongly on how they'll select the advertisers. It's a lot of trust to be put in a company, so no wonder people are sceptical.
I also think that GoDaddy is a very low standard to compare to, much, much lower than what we came to expect from YC startups.
I'm glad they're looking at a different avenue. While we can debate the particulars about whether or not certain windows installer ride-alongs or all of them are scammy, I don't think it's a valuable business. Comparing to GoDaddy doesn't make it sound better via association.
Hope to see something more awesome from these folks soon.
Although admittedly I have no idea what GoDaddy's checkout procedure is like since I have honestly never used it, maybe it is especially terrible in which case that is not a glowing reflection on this software..
However, thinking of less technical users here.
When you are in the mode to buy something , you are probably prepared for an upsell at some point and know what to look out for.
When installing something on your computer, a less savvy user is likely not knowledgeable enough to understand the implications of something extra being installed on their computer with often full administrative privileges.
They are also unlikely to understand the difference between an extra system component that must be installed for technical reasons (.Net, DirectX etc) and some third party software that is completely separate and not required.
This is worse than that. I know the types of people who have browsers full of ask.com/aol/etc toolbars. They aren't technically inclined. They don't even recall how those toolbars ever came to be there and they never wanted them.
They aren't able to see through the tricks. They want to download software. They know that's the goal. Installers simply have to keep offering them opportunities to download software and they'll keep agreeing to it to achieve their goal.
At the moment, their website states:
"We are a YCombinator company (YCW2012) and are backed by some of the most prestigious investors in the silicon valley."
As a non-pg entity, I feel vicarious indignation. Who are these random nobodies who think they're entitled to question how/where you spend your time and effort?
And the people who get up on their soapbox about the ethics of YC or how you've tacitly endorsed deceptive practices? Ugh... eff the eff off
EDIT: to head off the obvious criticism, yes I do think there are legitimate questions about IM's business model. My point is: show some humility and circumspection when asking them. Unless you've had to earn $1 directly from a customer (no boss managing and organizing your work) you're an outsider looking in at a completely different universe. Act accordingly.
The reason all the "random nobodies" are questioning IM's business model is that they have deep-seated feelings about the scammy business and the evilness of Windows installers. They spent hours cleaning up mountains of crap from their relatives' and friends' computers. They understand how non-tech users feel helpless in the face of sneaky bullshit artists piling that crap onto their hard drives, and they feel enraged when they think about it, and for a good reason too.
So in fact, nobody who's in business of building installers that distribute crap toolbars deserves humility and circumspection. They might possibly be that rare exception, a flower blooming on a dunghill, but asking sharp questions to establish that is neither impolite nor inappropriate. It comes with the territory they've chosen to grow on.
Your moral indignation is as laughable as it is corrupt. Just as much of it would be appropriate defending an actual spammer - I can see you directing people to get off their soapboxes and telling them they don't get to judge the spammer's business until they earned $1 from a customer. A "completely different universe" indeed. Get a clue.
In my case (by extension, my business), the appropriate units here would be "months" (assuming 720 hrs/month).
Yet I still don't see this as a YC issue, I don't see anything more justifiable than a quibble over PG's response to it, and I'm a little stunned at the vitriol here.
Still though, the response seems disproportionate. It's not like YC has recently developed a pattern of funding distasteful businesses (or teams); why did everyone automatically assume YC was behaving badly?
There still seems to be a problem in people jumping to conclusions before having enough information at hand. A lot of the comments on Aaron's case were symptomatic of this (the fallout too).
I'm not sure if this is a new problem here or not, but it seems to be getting a lot uglier recently.
Sure, there may be factors here we don't understand here but I think now would be an excellent time to unveil whatever grand plan they have to head off the PR shitstorm this is in the process of creating.
As I have mentioned elsewhere YC have gained significant nerd-cred which has no doubt been beneficial to them. This seems to be largely because they appear as a company that has strong driving principles about the sort of changes they want to see in the world.
No it doesn't mean that. What it means is that you, as a non-doctor, should excercise some discretion and humility wen choosing your words. Expressing harsh condemnation and judgment when you have a small piece of the picture is an unbelievable asshole move. None of these Tough Guys throwing around words like "crapware" and "spammer" would ever call anyone out like this in public, I guarantee it -- it's all keyboard courage and nerdrage.
This seems to be largely because they appear as a company that has strong driving principles about the sort of changes they want to see in the world.
IMO it's more due to the fact that YC asks for nerds to come as they are -- the entry process asks you how you're a hacker, and if you're selected you get an interview where pg wants you to geek out with him about your product. No flashy pitches or navigating social networks to get the right intro -- it's a process that cuts out all the BS that doesn't appeal to nerds.
The idea that there is some violated goodwill is just backwards rationalization. And it doesn't change my point, which is, essentially: who are you to question where YC invests?
A free man, in a free country, on a message forum where all are free to post their opinions?
Maybe the business shouldn't stay afloat, maybe it should wind itself down.
I say this as someone who was approached by InstallMonetizer in 2011/2012 to add IM to the installers of my Windows apps. I declined, of course, because I wouldn't want to trick my customers with the tactics that InstallMonetizer uses. Tricking customers with EULA-like 'offer screens' to install browser toolbars is wrong.
I would rather close down my business than treat my customers that way.
I don't know what IM installs - but I see Norton on their webpage. I can easily see "most end-users" installing something, seeing the opportunity to install Norton Anti-Virus, and thinking to themselves "oh yea, that sounds like that'd be useful".
Just about everybody on HN is extremely technically savvy - we can't assume that our computing preferences are shared by "most end-users". Note that I am just responding to the assertion that "it['s] hard to believe that [PG] truly think[s] it is anything but a nuisance to end-users".
> we can't assume that our computing preferences are shared by "most end-users".
Those are still anecdotes, but I think most of us actually can say this or that about end-users preferences, after countless of hours spent on cleaning their computers. I for one think that calling it "nuisance" is a massive understatement.
While i dislike the idea of crapware, if it funds useful pieces of software, perhaps its a nuisance that could be tolerated.
Quoting Rafael: "You'll find they only have 42 current advertisers... and not Norton/others listed on the site."