Early Businesses Based on "Free"
Idealab conceived Free-PC as an opportunity to deliver free PCs to consumers, with the cost fully borne by advertising.
The company was acquired by eMachines. Also during this period, NetZero (later to become United Online) went public.
Commission Junction was a pioneer in the affiliate marketing industry, connecting advertisers with web site owners and paying commissions on a per referral basis.
Commission Junction was acquired by ValueClick in 2003.
$1 Billion Raised
Idealab raised $1 billion in Series D financing at a $10 billion valuation and reached 270 employees with 5 offices in Pasadena, Silicon Valley, New York, Boston and London.
Idealab purchased the .tv domain from the island nation of Tuvalu to create dotTV. dotTV was acquired by VeriSign in 2001.
Focus on Emerging Technologies
After the Internet bubble burst, Idealab founded a number of companies in emerging technologies. Evolution Robotics provides a platform to deliver vision
and navigation technologies to top consumer products; ClearMesh sold ultra-broadband wireless networks that enable service providers to reach areas
not covered by fiber-optic cables; and Energy Innovations delivers affordable renewable energy to a world increasingly relying on dwindling fossil fuel resources.
Picasa launched a digital photo organizer for the PC as well as the peer-to-peer application "Hello"
which allowed consumers to instantly share and discuss their digital photo collections. Picasa was acquired by Google in 2004.
Smaller is Better
Following the collapse of the stock market in 2001, Idealab retuned to 80 employees in
Pasadena and to incubating internally generated ideas.
Based on Bill Gross' experience with an early DOS search program, Lotus Magellan, X1 was founded and subsequently launched their pioneering desktop search application,
X1 Search. X1 enables instant access to all data contained on individual PCs and corporate servers, and the company has been awarded several
patents around its intuitive refine-as-you-type search interface.
A New Identity
Idealab launched a new corporate identity with a logo that represents the formation of ideas, the creation of companies and technologies,
and the creative process at Idealab. The tagline "Think Ahead" reflects Idealab's mission to innovate and create value.
Reinventing Internet Search
Idealab continued its quest for ever-better search experiences and business models with two new companies. Insider Pages tackled local search,
providing introductions to local businesses through a user's personal network of friends. Snap.com reinvented
Internet search with CPA (cost-per-action), where an advertiser pays only when a customer has finished a transaction, and a new
user interface that allowed the user to see web pages while browsing the results of a search.
After becoming a leading operator of media and e-commerce sites for "large ticket" consumer purchases such as cars, real estate,
mortgages, and travel, CarsDirect changed its name to Internet Brands. CarsDirect.com, meanwhile, is currently the leading multi-brand online car
buying service, providing new and pre-owned automobiles and related products and services. Other subsidiaries include LoanStore and VacationHomes.
Aptera Motors was founded and began developing their lightweight, low cost composite electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles
that are safe and reliable. Their first vehicle, the Aptera 2e, employs low-cost composite manufacturing methods
and cutting edge computational fluid dynamics.
World Economic Forum
Energy Innovations was selected as one of 36 Technology Pioneers for the annual World Economic Forum in Davos. Technology Pioneers
are companies that have been identified as developing and applying highly transformational and innovative technologies in the areas of
energy, biotechnology and health, and information technology.
Concentrating Solar Power
eSolar was founded with the mission of making solar energy cost competitive with fossil fuels by building solar plants that utilize less steel and more computational power.
Blogged.com and Perfect Market
Blogged.com was launched as a destination site that integrates the latest news and blog content with a community to create conversations around news.
Perfect Market raised $15.6 million in venture funding and was spun out of Snap.com to help publishers promote and monetize underutilized content.
Internet Brands IPO
Internet Brands debuts on the NASDAQ stock market trading under the ticker symbol INET.
Capitalizing on its vast catalog of website images, Snap Technologies introduces SnapShots to provide any website or blog with instant previews of corresponding hyperlinks.
In just over a month, the service was adopted by more than 15,000 websites and served more than 15 million previews.
Supermarkets Embrace Technology
Evolution Robotics Retail gained leading supermarket chains Giant Eagle, Pathmark and Shoppers Food &
Pharmacy as customers of its LaneHawk loss-prevention solution. LaneHawk is a visual scanner that recognizes
items going through a checkout stand without having to read the UPC code.
Google's Solar Installation
EI Solutions, the solar integration unit of Energy Innovations, completed construction of a 1.6 MW solar array for
Google, which at the time was the largest corporate solar installation in the U.S.
Duron Energy was founded to develop truly affordable energy-generation solutions for off-grid use in emerging markets.
Its mission is to enable access to sustainable energy for the millions of households presently living without electricity.
Duron Energy has deep expertise across many modern technologies including solar, wind, and human-powered products.
Aptera selected as TIME's "Best Innovations of 2008" and Popular Mechanics' "Top 10 New World-Changing Innovations of the Year".
EI Solutions, the solar integration unit of Energy Innovations, was acquired by Suntech, the world's largest manufacturer of solar panels, and is renamed Suntech Energy Solutions.
In addition, wireless network security companies Airwave and Newbury Networks were acquired by Aruba Networks and Trapeze Networks respectively.
X1 in the Enterprise
X1 Technologies surpassed 300 enterprise customers ranging from top Fortune 1000 companies to small, independent businesses.
Workers of all levels have come to depend on X1 which helps them locate files, emails and data across multiple repositories.
eSolar Raises $130 Million
eSolar raised $130 million in venture funding from Idealab, Oak Investment Partners and Google.org to accelerate the deployment of its Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) technology and shortly thereafter announced agreements to develop more than 1.5 GW of electricity globally.
LAVA Honors Bill Gross
Los Angeles Venture Association (LAVA) honored Bill Gross with a lifetime achievement award in recognition
of his entrepreneurial achievements in the Los Angeles, CA region.
RayTracker was spun out of Energy Innovations and builds upon the advanced tracking technologies developed for EI's SunFlower.
RayTracker's support systems increase the energy production of photovoltaic solar energy systems by tracking the sun as it moves across the sky and can increase the efficiency of a PV system by upwards of 33%.
eSolar's demonstration plant, Sierra SunTower, was unveiled to the public during a reception held at the plant attended by more than 250 invited guests.
The plant's 24,000 computer controlled mirrors harness the sun to create 5 MW of clean electricity which is delivered to Southern California Edison.
Bringing 3D Printing to Consumers
Desktop Factory was acquired by 3D Systems, an industry leader in 3D printing, to accelerate the delivery of Desktop Factory's low-cost technology to the market.
Feedback.com was launched as a place for anyone to give and receive feedback about anything, anytime, anywhere.
eSolar Selected as Technology Pioneer
eSolar was selected as one of 26 Technology Pioneers for the annual World Economic Forum in Davos. Technology Pioneers represent
the most innovative start-ups from around the globe that will have a critical impact on the future of business and society.
Idealab introduced a new logo with four color pixels that represents Idealab's companies' focus across these four categories: Cleantech, Communications & Services, Internet/Mobile Media, and Automation.
The Evolution of Floor Care
Evolution Robotics introduced Mint, an intelligent floor cleaning appliance designed exclusively for hard surface floors, at the 2010 International Consumer Electronics Show.
Finding the World's Best Tweeters
PostUp was launched to make Twitter more relevant for everyone by boosting the world's best tweeters on any topic to the top of search results.
Mint Wins Awards
Following its introduction in January, Mint received several prestigious awards, including an International CES Innovations Design and Engineering Award in the Portable Home Appliances category, a Popular Mechanics' Editor's Choice award for best new product at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show and the IDEA (International Design Excellence Award) in the "Home Living" category by the Industrial Design Society of America.
Evolution Robotics Retail Acquired
Datalogic S.p.A. acquired Evolution Robotics Retail. At the time of their acquisition, ER Retail's flagship product, LaneHawk BOB, had seen broad acceptance and was being used for loss prevention in the bottom-of-basket at retail checkout nationwide with over 10,000 lanes installed.
Perfect Market Debuts “The Vault”
Perfect Market introduced The Vault — a powerful technology platform that enables professional publishers to grow revenues by identifying their most engaging editorial content, then automatically packages, distributes and monetizes it online.
Internet Brands Goes Private
Internet Brands, a company started by Idealab in 1998 as CarsDirect.com, was acquired by affiliates of Hellman & Friedman Capital Partners, IV, L.P.
RayTracker, an industry leader in utility grade PV tracking systems, was acquired by First Solar, one of the largest manufacturers of photovoltaic (PV) system solutions in the world.
PostUp Becomes UberMedia
PostUp acquires several popular Twitter apps and forms UberMedia as a platform to drive innovations in social communications.
Mint Selected by Good Housekeeping
Mint was one of the ten products selected by Good Housekeeping for its annual V.I.P. (Very Innovative Products) Awards, which recognize the year's breakthrough products that solve everyday problems in new and innovative ways. Good Housekeeping evaluates more than 2,000 products for the annual award and winners include first-of-its-kind products in a range of categories.
Investing in Great Ideas
The majority of Idealab's companies are based on internally-developed ideas, but we also occasionally add to our network of digital media companies by taking significant equity stakes in companies started by outside entrepreneurs. In 2011, Idealab invested in Triptrotting, CoolEnergy, GoPollGo, Ming.ly, Kaleo and StyleSpot.
Evolution Robotics Extends its Product Line
Building on the success of the original Mint Automatic Floor Cleaner, Evolution Robotics released the Mint Plus which offers an enhanced wet cleaning system, including a self-dispensing reservoir, faster recharge and a larger battery providing up to four hours of run time.
The First Investigative Solution Designed for Social Media
Powered by the award-winning and patented X1 Search Technology, X1 Discovery is founded to enable eDiscovery and computer forensics professionals the ability to effectively address social media content through a powerful platform to collect, authenticate, search, review and produce data from popular social media sites and other web sources.
UberMedia Introduces Chime.in
Chime.in is a new social media network from UberMedia that provides a fun way to meet people who share your interests. In only 100 days since its launch, the Chime.in platform had served more than 200 million chimes to more than 5 million unique visitors around the world.
Investing in Los Angeles Area Entrepreneurs
Launchpad LA was founded as a mentorship organization in 2009 by VC Mark Suster with the goal of helping young talented startup entrepreneurs build relationships, get funded, and grow while remaining in Southern California. Inspired by the growing market opportunity in L.A., the Launchpad Accelerator Program was created. In addition to Idealab, notable investors including Rincon Ventures, Baroda Ventures, GRP Partners, David Cohen (founder of TechStars), David Tisch (founder of TechStars NY), DLA Piper, and Stubbs Alderton participated in the fundraising.
The Next Generation of Solar Heliostats
Thermata is founded to deliver low-cost heliostat systems and incorporates unique intellectual property using true closed loop heliostat sensing and control that eliminates the need for encoders, linear actuators, and other expensive components of more traditional heliostats.
Housing the World's Poor
WorldHaus manufactures and builds customized, weatherproof homes for families in the developing world at a price they can afford, employing a modular building system that allows families to build to any size and configuration they desire.
"Gravel on Ski Lifts"
Energy Cache is developing a novel mechanical battery that beats the cost and performance of pumped hydro, compressed air, and other "geologic" storage solutions, while sidestepping the issue of finding suitable sites. In addition to bulk energy storage, Energy Cache's system is capable of incredibly rapid response allowing valuable ancillary services – such as frequency regulation – to be provided to the grid.
Idealab Founder and CEO Bill Gross chosen as the recipient of the first annual LAUNCH Award for Lifetime Achievement in Entrepreneurship.
How Idealab Works
"TheGatesNotes.com," the personal website of Bill Gates, spent two days filming in and around our building and interviewed several people about the Idealab process of creating and operating companies that take on big ideas. The completed video, "How Idealab Works," was featured on their site along with an article written by Bill Gates.
Energy Innovations Closes
Faced with the falling price of photovoltaic alternatives, Energy Innovations, which was a pioneer in the development of Highly Concentrated PV (HCPV), was unable to raise additional capital and ceased operations.
Cow Free Mondays
Started as an internal green project of Idealab, Cow Free Mondays was opened up for public participation as an initiative that doesn't ask for all that much, yet allows us to make a sizable impact on our environment.
A Home of Their Own
After months of planning and securing a location in the outskirts of Chennai, India, the WorldHaus concept became a reality with the completion of their first prototype home.
Investing in Discovery
Idealab invests in two companies focused on discovery: Tint and Crashworks. Tint collects links you already share and organizes them into a single page allowing your friends and followers to easily discover the web through you. Crash is a location-based attraction discovery app where users can find unique and curated tourist attractions off the beaten path.
Evolution Robotics Acquired by iRobot
Idealab founded Evolution Robotics in 2001 as a robotics platform company based on Bill's vision to usher in the era of personal robotics. In 2010, the company introduced the Mint Automatic Floor Cleaner which quickly became one of the best-selling household robotic products on the market. In 2012, the company was acquired by iRobot for $74 million.