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

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. Chris Meadows2 October, 2015

    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. SAD2 October, 2015

    You could opt out with AdBlock Plus just as well.

    1. Nate Hoffelder2 October, 2015

      That’s what I do, yes. And most of what gets past Adblock Plus is caught by Ghostery.

  3. Jason van Gumster2 October, 2015

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

  4. Chris Meadows2 October, 2015

    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. Scott Lewis3 October, 2015

    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.

    1. Nate Hoffelder3 October, 2015

      @ Scott

      You’re at least the fifth person I’ve heard that from today. They could not have handled this worse if Google were the new owner.


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