Adblock Developer Sells Out to Unnamed Buyer

6184413017_548d00d272_bInvestors might not have a lot of confidence in the future of the ad tech industry, but ad blocking companies are proving immensely popular.

Adblock, a popular extension for blocking adverts in Safari and Chrome with more than 40 million users, was quietly sold yesterday. Michael Gundlach, its developer, announced the news to users in the form of a pop up advert.

The notice mentions that Adblock would be participating in the acceptable ads program which had originally been  developed by its competitor Eyeo (makers of the similarly named Adblock Plus), but down in the fine print he mentions that he is selling the company:

adblock sale pop up


The news of this sale comes at an interesting time for the advertising industry. As more ad block developers sell out, and it becomes increasingly clear that adverts inflict a high cost on users, and traffic is down on many sites due to unexplained changes to the web landscape, publishers are questioning whether they can survive.

Some, like the Washington Post and the Star Tribune, are blocking ad blockers. But others are going with the flow and are giving users the option to disable adverts, and still more are exploring new models or ways to fight ad blockers.

Gundlach has yet to publicly comment on the sale, but the notice was first seen on Twitter, and picked up by TNW.  We're all still trying to find out who bought the company, but at this point neither Gundlach or the Adblock staff is willing to say who is now pulling the strings.

And that is a problem for Adblock's 40 million users. It's bad enough that Adblock is closed-source software whose features can change with little notice, but can the users still trust the developers if they don't know who is really running things behind the scenes?

image by Miguel Pires da Rosa

About Nate Hoffelder (11472 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: "I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

7 Comments on Adblock Developer Sells Out to Unnamed Buyer

  1. I saw that announcement come up in my browser this morning, as I use regular AdBlock. Considered screen-capping it, but was too drowsy and closed the window before I could.

    Now I guess I’m nonplussed with AdBlock non-plus, too. Oh well, at least I could opt out of acceptable ads.

  2. You could opt out with AdBlock Plus just as well.

  3. For an open source solution, you might consider using uBlock or uBlock Origin.

  4. It’s worth noting that buying out and re-purposing browser extensions whose creators have gotten tired of maintaining them is a favorite trick of purveyors of malware. While AdBlock being bought out doesn’t necessarily bode ill, the refusal to name its purchaser is deeply suspicious, and has a number of my friends uninstalling it and switching away already.

  5. Not knowing who owns it now and seeing a pop up ad announcing more ads, I uninstalled it and switched to Ublock Origin. The fact that I can disable ads wasn’t of interest to me.

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