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Idealab
Timeline
Below is a brief timeline which highlights some of Idealab's noteworthy milestones and achievements beginning with the company's founding in 1996. For more information and a complete list of our companies past and present, please visit the "Our Companies" section.

Jump to:  1996-1998  |  1999-2001  |  2002-2004  |  2005-2007  |  2008-2010  |  2011-2013
Jump to:  1996-1998  |  1999-2001  |  2002-2004  |  2005-2007  |  2008-2010  |  2011-2013
1996
The Beginning
Idealab is founded by Bill Gross with a handful of employees to test many ideas at once and turn the best of them into companies, while also attracting the human and financial capital necessary to bring them to market.
Idealab
 
CitySearch
CitySearch pioneered the field of local online guides, starting in Pasadena and quickly branching out across the country. The company merged with TicketMaster Online in 1998 and went public on the NASDAQ. It is currently part of IAC/InterActiveCorp (NASDAQ:IAC)
CitySearch
1997
eToys
eToys launched in 1997 and quickly became one of the most recognized brands on the Internet. eToys went public in 1999 and was later acquired by KB Toys.
eToys
 
We've Moved
Idealab moved to 130 West Union Street in Pasadena, CA. The office interior was designed to provide an open environment to facilitate communication and collaboration between Idealab and operating company employees.
Idealab
1998
Invention of Pay-Per-Click
GoTo.com initiated the then-radical concept of paid search and provided the business model that enables some of the most successful companies on the Internet to thrive. The company went public in 1999 and in 2001 changed its name to Overture Services. Two years later, it was acquired by Yahoo! for $1.6 billion.
GoTo
 
E-Commerce
The success of eToys inspired a number of other e-commerce companies at Idealab, including Cooking.com, PETsMART.com, Wedding Channel, and Eve.com, among others.
E-Commerce Cooking.com PETsMART.com
1999
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.
Free-PC
 
Affiliate Marketing
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.
Commission Junction
2000
$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
 
dotTV
Idealab purchased the .tv domain from the island nation of Tuvalu to create dotTV. dotTV was acquired by VeriSign in 2001.
dotTV
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.
Emerging Technologies ClearMeshEnergy Innovations
2002
Digital Photos
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.
Picasa
2003
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.
Idealab
 
Desktop Search
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.
X1 Technologies
2004
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.
Idealab
 
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.
Internet Search Snap Insider Pages
2005
Internet Brands
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.
Internet Brands
2006
Ultra-efficient Transportation
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.
Aptera
 
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.
Energy Innovations Technology Pioneer
2007
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.
eSolar
 
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.
Perfect Market Blogged
 
Internet Brands IPO
Internet Brands debuts on the NASDAQ stock market trading under the ticker symbol INET.
Internet Brands IPO
 
SnapShots
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.
Snap
 
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.
Evolution Robotics Retail
 
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.
EI Solutions
2008
Duron Energy
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.
Distributed World Power
 
Aptera Accolades
Aptera selected as TIME's "Best Innovations of 2008" and Popular Mechanics' "Top 10 New World-Changing Innovations of the Year".
Aptera Accolades
 
Acquisitions
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.
Acquisitions EI Solutions Airwave Newbury Networks
 
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.
X1
 
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.
eSolar
 
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.
LAVA Honors
2009
Solar Tracking
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%.
RayTracker
 
Sierra SunTower
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.
eSolar Sierra SunTower
 
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.
Desktop Factory
 
Feedback
Feedback.com was launched as a place for anyone to give and receive feedback about anything, anytime, anywhere.
Feedback
 
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.
eSolar Technology Pioneer
 
New Logo
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.
Idealab
2010
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.
Evolution Robotics' Mint
 
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.
UberMedia
 
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
 
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.
Evolution Robotics Retail
 
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.
Perfect Market
 
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.
Internet Brands
 
RayTracker Acquired
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.
RayTracker
2011
PostUp Becomes UberMedia
PostUp acquires several popular Twitter apps and forms UberMedia as a platform to drive innovations in social communications.
UberMedia acquires several popular Twitter apps, such as Twidroyd, UberTwitter and Echofon
 
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.
Evolution Robotics
 
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.
Idealab New Ventures
 
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.
Evolution Robotics Mint Plus
 
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.
X1 Discovery
 
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.
UberMedia
 
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.
Launchpad LA
 
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.
Thermata
 
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.
WorldHaus
 
"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.
Energy Cache
2012
Entrepreneurship Award
Idealab Founder and CEO Bill Gross chosen as the recipient of the first annual LAUNCH Award for Lifetime Achievement in Entrepreneurship.
LAUNCH Entrepreneurship Award
 
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.
How Idealab Works
 
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.
Energy Innovations
 
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.
Cow Free Mondays
 
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.
WorldHaus
 
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.
Tint and CrashworksCrashworksTint
 
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.
Evolution Robotics Acquired by iRobot
2013
Cooking.com Acquired by Target
Founded in 1998, Cooking.com uniquely combined the most comprehensive product selection for the kitchen with engaging tools and content for foodies and home cooks alike. Cooking.com was acquired by Target Corporation in April 2013.
Cooking.com Acquired by Target
 
Introducing The Design Accelerator
Art Center College of Design, in partnership with Caltech, teamed with Idealab to launch the first design-focused incubator in Southern California. The Design Accelerator helps startups by selecting promising early stage, design-driven technology companies from the Art Center and Caltech communities for an intensive three-month program housed at Idealab.
Design Accelerator
 
GoPollGo Acquired by Yahoo!
GoPollGo made it easy to create, vote on and share polls on Twitter, Facebook, or any other website. GoPollGo also provided analytics built in for publishers, allowing them to segment votes by age, gender, location and more. GoPollGo was acquired by Yahoo! in May 2013.
GoPollGo Acquired by Yahoo!
 
Monetizing Mobile
UberMedia announced UberAds, a new mobile advertising platform that analyzes public social media signals to derive consumer intent – such as interest in buying a car, running, shopping, music – and combines that with geo-location and dynamically created ads to deliver significantly superior results.
UberAds Monetizing Mobile
 
Sellbrite and GameMix Join Idealab
Sellbrite, a web-based solution that enables online retailers to easily list, sell and manage their products on multiple channels, and GameMix, a free and instant game discovery platform for smartphones, tablets or desktops, joined the Idealab network of companies.
Sellbrite and GameMix Join Idealab
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