WhenU.com Gets $15 Mil. in Funding

NEW YORK Fresh off an important legal victory, adware maker WhenU.com said it has closed a $15 million financing deal as part of a $35 million round of financing.

Trident Capital made the investment, which is a follow-on to the $20 million in funding WhenU received in April from ABS Capital Partners. WhenU said it would use the financing for further product development and day-to-day operations. Trident managing director Venetia Kontogouris will join WhenU’s board of directors.

The Trident funding comes on the heels of New York-based WhenU prevailing in a trademark-infringement case brought against it by 1-800 Contacts. A court last week threw out 1-800 Contacts’ suit, which alleged WhenU’s pop-up ads triggered by visits to 1800Contacts.com are legal.

Kontogouris said the investment was not tied to WhenU winning the 1-800 Contacts case. “The investment was based on what we think the consumer is going to need: targeted ads,” she said.

The WhenU ruling, along with pending spyware legislation in Congress, promises to bring some clarity to major adware makers like WhenU and Claria. Microsoft is reportedly considering a $500 million bid for Claria, which tracks Internet behavior to display relevant advertising.

WhenU bundles its SaveNow pop-up ad software with free downloaded programs, including file-sharing service BearShare and screensavers. The program displays offers to users based on their Web activity. For instance, a visitor to an airline site might receive a coupon from another carrier.

In the past year, WhenU has made moves to improve its disclosure practices, labeling each ad with its own brand and the software program with which it was bundled. The ads also carry a toll-free phone number for consumers to call if they do not understand why they are receiving SaveNow offers.