Direct Revenue: A Spyware Story

Dennis Faas's picture

If you ask the consumers who have been unlucky enough to encounter software created by Direct Revenue -- and the New York Attorney General -- both would agree that the company's sole purpose is to create Spyware.

Located in an unexceptional New York apartment, Direct Revenue is a modest corporation cleverly run. So well, in fact, that this humble NYC abode has seen an astounding $100 million dollars in sales since 2002.

Profits for Patience

Direct Revenue boasts that its Spyware programs -- the weeds that essentially infect a computer with incessant advertisements -- have wormed their way into the hearts of 100 million computers worldwide, making the company a profitable and yet, universally despised entity.

Of course, there are those who love Direct Revenue's work: their clients, including giant corporations like Delta Airlines and Cingular Wireless. With that said, many of Direct Revenue's profits come from smaller businesses: those that don't mind the chance of infuriating a potential customer if it earns them a quick buck. (Source:

Direct Revenue is headed by Joshua Abram, who in 1999 helped establish The featured product of Abram's first company was a rather unobtrusive browser plugin that sucked up user information as they clicked across the worldwide web.

When ceased to exist in 2001, Abram, whose father was a civil rights activist in the 1960s, began Direct Revenue. Bringing together a collection of alumnae and advertising gurus, Direct Revenue was built from the ground up to generate huge profits at the expense of the average web surfer's sanity.

Is there any stopping it?

Spyware is a massive Internet industry. Estimates place it at somewhere around $2 billion a year, including a staggering 11% of Internet advertising business. Direct Revenue has so effectively tapped into these profits, that many of its own employees' systems have been infected with it's own Spyware. (Source:

Although Direct Revenue has just 100 employees, its impact on the tech world is huge. For years, viruses were the subject of angry emails and office curses, but recently Spyware has become the target of blog rants.

As the Spyware problem becomes more recognized, lawmakers will begin to follow suit. In April, New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer filed a lawsuit alleging that Direct Revenue went too far by installing unwanted software for profit on unsuspecting users' systems. Direct Revenue's response might be as aggravating as its product, claiming that their practice is so commonplace that they cannot be specifically fingered for wrong-doing. (Source:

Clicker Beware

As Spyware continues to make companies like Direct Revenue rich, it remains to be seen what compensation might be offered to the average surfer, who may forever regret that solitary death-knell click upon an interesting ad for "free desktop wallpaper".

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