News of Claria’s move could build on reports of a Microsoft trademark application for a name similar to that of a technology owned by Claria may mean the Microsoft/Claria takeover talks could be taking place in the background.
Once upon a time in the summer of 2005, rumors swirled that Microsoft planned to purchase Claria, once known and heartily reviled in its Gator incarnation. Steve Ballmer’s M&A had a $500 million check prepared for the purchase, so the reports said.
A palpable outcry seemed to deter Microsoft from the purchase. Complaints about Microsoft quietly downgrading the way its anti-spyware product rated Claria software and the general public griping about bringing the company aboard the Redmond mothership appeared to scuttle the deal. The rumors melted away.
Then a curious story about a Microsoft trademark filing emerged. The mysterious blogger Thomas Hawk posted speculation in late February 2006 that the trademark filing could indicate Microsoft and Claria were working together on something called Relerank.
The Relerank name is awfully close to RelevancyRank. So close that it was a little surprising the sounds of Gulfstream jets full of attorneys and paperwork should have been heard departing from the airport nearest Claria’s Redwood City, CA, headquarters to deliver their lethal legal payloads at Bill Gates’ doorstep.
It didn’t happen. Much like Conan Doyle’s curious incident of the dog in the night-time, not a peep was heard from Claria about what looked like an infringement.
This brings us to current day. Claria has sworn off adware, MediaPost reported, and is working with Deutsche Bank Securities to sell off products it bundles with adware. They plan to be out of the adware business by the end of June.
The end of June. Something else happens then, too. Microsoft’s long-running deal with Yahoo’s Overture unit for online advertising ends, to be replaced by MSN adCenter.
Just a coincidence? Let’s look at the last paragraph of the MediaPost article:
Perhaps they found one in the form of Microsoft, with its Windows Live Toolbar and MSN Messenger client. Claria gets bought out, its venture capital backers cash out, and RelevancyRank becomes Microsoft Relerank.
And everyone lives happily ever after. The end.