The Company Behind AdBlock Plus Is Acquiring a Swedish Micropayments Startup

Flattr aims to monetize ad-free content

Eyeo has acquired Flattr to work on monetizing ad-free content.
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The company behind one of the biggest ad blockers is getting into the micropayments business.

Eyeo—the creator of AdBlock Plus—has acquired Flattr, a Swedish startup focused on micropayments, aiming to create a new way for users to pay for online content rather than being interrupted by free ad-supported material. In a statement today announcing the news, Eyeo said Flattr’s technology will allow it to pay creators for their work and also to downplay clickbait and create a “quality shield” around content that’s more engaging.

“At Eyeo we’ve always looked for ways to make the web more fair and less annoying,” Eyeo founder Till Faida said in a statement. “We started with Adblock Plus, which helped pioneer the idea of constructive ad blocking: letting in better, more respectable ads that ad blocking users accept. Flattr makes micropayments automatic and effortless, thus it will be the most user-friendly payment solution on the internet. Together, constructive ad blocking and Flattr complete Eyeo’s vision of putting users in control of an internet that is fair and still profitable.”

"Together we will be able to create an internet which is fair to all, sustainable and safe."
-Peter Sunde Kolmisoppi, Flattr co-founder

Eyeo, which began partnering with Flattr last year, plans to create a “new Flattr” that will combine the content curation capabilities of Adblock Plus with the transaction technology from Flattr, creating a “hybrid of the two” that could help creators get more revenue directly from fans rather than from other companies.

The end result for Adblock Plus’s 100 million users will be a more “transparent and fair” process for payments.

“Together we will be able to create an internet which is fair to all, sustainable and safe,” Flattr co-founder Peter Sunde Kolmisoppi said in a statement.

This isn’t the first time Eyeo and Flattr have collaborated. Last year, they created Flattr Plus as a way for readers to pay a small sum to publishers on a monthly basis. (At the time, TechCrunch compared it to how Spotify distributes revenue to musicians.)

Eyeo hasn’t always seen eye-to-eye with every media and tech company. In August, AdBlock Plus created a workaround shortly after Facebook announced it’d be cracking down on ad-blocking software that prevents users from seeing ads on their devices. A month later, Google cut ties with another company affiliated with Eyeo after AdBlock Plus announced a marketplace, claiming that Google would sell ads to people using ad blocking software.

Major programmatic advertising player AppNexus also ended its relationship with Eyeo, explaining in a statement that it views Eyeo’s businesses practices as “fundamentally harmful” to the media and adverting ecosystem.