WhenU Hires Bill Day as CEO

Adware maker WhenU.com named former About.com top executive Bill Day as its new CEO yesterday.

Day takes the reins from WhenU founder Avi Naider, who will move to the position of president and share executive responsibilities with Day. Naider served as CEO of WhenU since starting the company in early 2000.

“WhenU has a tremendous amount of opportunity in front of it,” Naider said. “We were looking for someone really strong, with an impeccable background in the consumer experience on the Internet.”

Day was a co-founder of About.com, then known as MiningCo.com, in June 1996. He served in executive positions during its rapid expansion in the dot-com boom days, including a $75 million initial public offering in March 1999 and a $690 million sale to Primedia in October 2000. Primedia named Day CEO of About in September 2001.

WhenU and competitor Claria serve behaviorally targeted ads to Web users based on their browsing habits. Their ad-serving software often comes bundled with popular file-sharing programs — in WhenU's case, BearShare. WhenU reports 30 million Internet users have its ad software installed.

Day said he was drawn to the desktop ad market by his experience with contextual advertising at About, which started contextual listings provider Sprinks during his tenure. Primedia sold Sprinks to Google in October 2003.

“If you look at where contextual is going next, in my opinion it's one to one,” he said.

Desktop software, which lets marketers display ads directly related to a consumer's Web activity, has proven highly effective for direct response advertisers. However, Web publishers and e-commerce sites have sued WhenU and Claria, claiming their services constitute unfair business practices as well as trademark and copyright infringement.

Naider has fought efforts to lump WhenU with spyware programs that infest computers and steal personal information. He has been a vocal advocate for adware, testifying before Congress on the spyware issue and filing a lawsuit to stop Utah's broadly drawn anti-spyware bill from taking effect.

Naider said the addition of a respected Internet industry veteran like Day would further WhenU's drive to separate itself from shady operators. The company notes that it does not use tracking cookies or build user profiles, and all of its ads contain a conspicuous option for uninstalling the WhenU software.

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