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I think people will be wondering if this resembles the founders' ideas when they were funded by you, and if this represents the kind of company you wish to be funding.

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.




They're working on something new, and all the office hours I had with them were about that. They're not even in our database of companies as InstallMonetizer but as the new thing. (I'm not sure if I can say the name because it may not be launched yet.) I knew they had some previous product that was called a Windows installer, but I don't think we ever talked about what it did.

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.

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pg, I think you should make this point clear in your OP. The reason I say this is that I don't think the majority of the indignation towards InstallMonetizer was around the fact that they do what they do, but rather the fact that YC appeared to have endorsed their behaviour. I think it would come as a kick in the guts for a lot of people who slaved away at 'big ideas' only to get rejected for YC in favour of a company like InstallMonetizer.

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.

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Fair enough. It does come across on http://www.installmonetizer.com/AT_aboutus.php that the product is funded/endorsed by Y Combinator though.

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I think this clarifies the whole thing: pg doesn't mind that much making Windows ecosystem a bit shittier. Not doing it purposefully, but also not feeling too bad if that is a side effect.

Edit: spelling

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Thanks for the update. I hope that whatever new they're working on will be less grey than this, and wish them the best of luck!

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.

(EDIT: spelling)

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Thanks for the update, pg.

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.

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I somewhat disagree that this is "no worse than all the upsells people have to click through to register domains on GoDaddy"

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.

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I suspect people registering a domain on GoDaddy will have a much higher probability of being technically inclined and able to know what to pay for and what they don't need. Further, GoDaddy will recommend products which are relevant to someone who does or will be managing a website etc..

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.

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I think the right thing to do here would be to ask them to remove mention of YCombinator from their website and not use it in press mentions.

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."

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Any comparison involving "no worse" and GoDaddy does not have the intended effect...

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You're a much more patient and understanding person than I am, pg. My initial reaction to pretty much every comment here is "Peanut gallery -- start your own incubator, or just accomplish one noteworthy thing in your life."

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.

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You're more obnoxious than all the critics in this thread put together. Get off your high horse.

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.

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> They spent hours cleaning up mountains of crap from their relatives' and friends' computers.

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.

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I like your recap of the issue in a different comment, but I think you're not giving enough weight to the fact that it wasn't known before that YC funded the team starting on a different projects, not IM. In fact, even now this information didn't appear in pg's update, only in a comment of his later on. I think much of the vitriol you're stunned at comes from people thinking that YC knowingly signed off on and invested in IM's business model, and I think that's quite enough to be shocked by, if it were true.

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That seems reasonable, and it's supported by IM claiming to be part of YC on one of their pages.

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.

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Thanks for demonstrating my point exactly. You are so far removed from the actual facts of the case, let alone any actual impact, and yet the fury and vitriol you're showing -- along with the certitude you have in your judgments -- suggest that, frankly, you feel entitled to have a say about anything you please. No justification necessary, you have an opinion, therefore your opinion matters.

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I never really like these type of arguments. For example if I believe a doctor is acting unethically is it wrong for me to call him out because I don't have a medical license?

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.

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For example if I believe a doctor is acting unethically is it wrong for me to call him out because I don't have a medical license?

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?

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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?

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I've earned several hundred thousand dollars directly from customers by doing honest work. I guess that means I can say that taking advantage of a person's lack of computer expertise to crowd his computer with toolbars, hijacking his search efforts, and making his web browsing slow to a crawl just to make a buck is very sleazy behavior.

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Uh. No you could already say that. You are also qualified to talk about how hard it is to earn money and find customers for whom you can deliver value. You can also now maybe talk about the balancing act that occurs when you take on outside money, start a new product, or look for customer money in places that are less-than-promising. Perhaps you can also talk about what it's like to have to do things you might find distasteful and work with people you might otherwise not choose, so the business can stay afloat.

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"Perhaps you can also talk about what it's like to have to do things you might find distasteful and work with people you might otherwise not choose, so the business can stay afloat."

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.

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This. More transparency with what and how IM used to act is not relevant to the forward perspective. They carved a niche with piggy back installers. What possible positive use could such service have?

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Just because you or I might find something to be a nuisance, doesn't mean most end-users will. Done right, I can easily see unsophisticated end-users being appreciative at being offered useful software that they would otherwise have not known about. I see this crap on my mom's computer all the time - she's bothered by it only if it affects performance or pops up with some message. If it's just sitting there, or if she actually uses it, she couldn't care less how it got there.

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Do you really think "most end-users" prefer the stuff that IM installs? Come on.

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"Prefer" is a higher bar than "don't care" / "not a nuisance".

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".

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Of what value to users can be a piece of software that they never heard of, don't know what it does and don't feel a need for it? Were they having a problem they wanted solved, they'd intentionally look for the software.

> 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.

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if you ask these non-technical end users whether they rather have the free software that comes with some crapware, or have to purchase a paid version (of the same software), i think you would find most would choose the free version.

While i dislike the idea of crapware, if it funds useful pieces of software, perhaps its a nuisance that could be tolerated.

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Norton is not a current advertiser (neither is Bing or Real), assuming Withinrafael is correct about how the Offer Screens are gathered. See his post about how to download & view the offer screens here:

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5086435

Quoting Rafael: "You'll find they only have 42 current advertisers... and not Norton/others listed on the site."

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