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Clearspring Technologies
Type Privately held companies
Founded 2004
Headquarters McLean, VA
Key people Hooman Radfar, CEO & Co-founder
Stewart Allen, CTO
Joel Pulliam, VP
Scott Cosby, VP

Clearspring Technologies is a privately held Web 2.0 software company that offers a web widget platform. Clearspring's viral distribution product enables web widgets to be shared and distributed across blogging, social networking sites, and personal Web sites. Clearspring's product offering also includes two approaches toward advertising with widgets: widgets that are served as ad content through an ad server, and an ad network that provides advertisers the ability to serve advertisements within a widget or across multiple widgets. Clearspring's analytics suite enables the tracking and analysis of widgets on its platform.



Clearspring Technologies was founded by Hooman Radfar [1] and Austin Fath [2] out of the school of Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. The two engineering students won a Phase 1 funding investment from the school’s Pennsylvania Cyber Security Commercialization Initiative (PaCSCI) program in 2005 for their project "A Secure Semantic Info Architecture (Clearspring)" [3]. The two company founders went on to be named “Tech’s Next Gen: The Best and Brightest” [4] by Business Week in March, 2007

The company established offices in Arlington, VA and later received $2M in funding [5] from Novak Biddle Ventures [6] on November 6, 2006. On February 26, 2007, AOL founder Steve Case and Ted Leonsis contributed $5.5M [7] in a second round of funding to the company. The company went on to raise an additional $10M [8] in funding in July, 2007 by an undisclosed individual investor. In May 2008 the company raised a further $18M [9] in a series C funding round that included leading venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates (NEA), Novak Biddle Venture Partners and other previous investors.

In November, 2006, Clearspring Technologies launched its widget syndication platform [10] to enable the sharing and tracking of widgets across the Web. The company now offers the ability to serve widgets as ads [11], ads within widgets [12] and also announced a partnership with Pennsylvania based PointRoll to deliver widgets within rich media advertisements, SnaggableAds [13].



Widget Ad Network

Clearspring's "Widget Ad Network" was announced in December 2007. The network provides the capability to advertise within a widget and across widgets. Clearspring's first Widget Ad Network advertisers were Virgin Mobile, Blockbuster, and Lionsgate. [14].

Snaggable Ads

Example of a SnaggableAd Created by Clearspring

Clearspring’s product name for widgets served as standard IAB banner ads is "SnaggableAds". This product was launched as a partnership with PointRoll in December 2007. Widgets served as advertisements provide the capability to be shared among and between users within social networks and across social network boundaries with the source being an advertisement. This allows advertisers to extend their campaigns beyond their initial buy as users viewing the widget as an ad can post the widget to their own site. [15]

Viral Posting

Example of a Launchpad

"Launchpad" is a product by Clearspring that was released October 30, 2007. The product allows Web publishers to convert Web content into portable widgets for viral distribution. Launchpad provides a set of customizable sharing menus and buttons that can be placed anywhere on a Web site, allowing end users to grab and post digital content in the form of a widget. The sharing tools within the widget serving product allow users to post the widget to social networks, start pages, blogs, desktop or personal Web sites. Launchpad users can access Clearspring's analytics suite to monitor distributed widget activity. [16]


Clearspring uses a flash embed that allows them to simultaneously set/receive HTTP cookies, record HTTP headers (user agent, referrer, IP address, etc), and set/receive Adobe Flash Local Shared Object. By combining all these ways of tracking users they attempt to track users even when that user takes specific action to avoid tracking. They then aggregate this all together to form a corpus of personally identifiable information, and then sell this knowledge of those they track (could be in aggregate), to advertisers, in the form of directed advertising.[17]

Key Investors

  • Novak Biddle Venture Partners
  • Joel P. Adams - founded Adams Capital Management in 1994
  • Miles R. Gilburne - served as Senior Vice President of Corporate Development of America Online (AOL)
  • Steve Case
  • Mark Jung
  • Ted Leonsis
  • Bobby Yazdani - founded Saba Software in 1997 and took the company public in 2000.


  1. "Web 2.0 Expo Speaker Bio - Hooman Radfar". CMP Technology and O'Reilly Media, Inc.. Retrieved 2008-04-22. 
  2. "Austin Fath". Ricochet Communications LLC. Retrieved 2008-04-22. 
  3. "Carnegie Mellon Announces PaCSCI Phase-1 Awards :: CyLab". Carnegie Mellon CyLab. Retrieved 2008-04-22. 
  4. "Tech's Next Gen: The Best and Brightest". Business Week. Retrieved 2008-04-22. 
  5. Ali, Rafat. "Content Widgets Syndication Firm Clearspring Gets $2 Million Funding". Retrieved 2008-04-22. 
  6. "Portfolio Companies : Novak Biddle - Venture Partners". Novak Biddle Venture Partners. Retrieved 2008-04-22. 
  7. Cashmore, Pete. "MySpace Widget Explosion: Clearspring, MyCityMate, Pikipimp". Mashable. Retrieved 2008-04-22. 
  8. "Widget syndicator backed by AOL founders raises additional $10M". TechJournal South. Retrieved 2008-04-22. 
  9. "Clearspring nabs $18 million for widget syndication". CNET. Retrieved 2008-06-05. 
  10. "LOCAL BRIEFING". Retrieved 2008-04-22. 
  11. Nicole, Kristen. "Clearspring’s New Widget Ads". Mashable. Retrieved 2008-04-22. 
  12. Catone, Josh. "Clearspring Launches Widget Ad Network". Read Write Web. Retrieved 2008-04-22. 
  13. Nicole, Kristen. "Clearspring Partners with PointRoll for Ads on your Widgets". Mashable. Retrieved 2008-04-22. 
  14. Auchard, Eric. "Widget syndicator Clearspring launches ad network". Reuters. Retrieved 2008-04-22. 
  15. Hendrickson, Mark. "Clearspring Opens Widget Network to Advertisers". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2008-04-22. 
  16. Gonzalez, Nick. "Track Your Widget’s Global Domination on Clearspring". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2008-04-22. 
  17. for example this web super-bug:

External links

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