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Broadband Digital Group Snatches Winfire

Free broadband purveyor Broadband Digital Group Tuesday bought browser accessory Winfire in the hopes of connecting clients with its network more efficiently.

Financial details were not disclosed Tuesday.

The deal more than doubles the number of BDG employees, which now totals more than 90, in addition to filling some key management positions at BDG that remained unfilled. In the new company, Chad Steelberg, former Winfire chief executive officer, will become CEO and chairman of Broadband Digital Group, while Ryan Steelberg will serve as BDG's president. Richard Shields, Winfire chief financial officer, will step into that same role for BDG.

BDG decided to incorporate Winfire's popular personalized browser assistant as its core technology to deliver advertising to its users and create desktop branding opportunities for its partners.

BDG will also expand Winfire to become an open applications development platform for any e-business wanting to build a branded desktop application to strengthen the relationship with their users. Partners that distribute their own branded browser assistant also can create their own high-speed communications network through FreeDSL, offering tailored broadband services to their users.

"This is a natural migration for the two companies," said Steelberg. "Not only did the Winfire development platform and its browser assistant application enable Broadband Digital Group to become fully operational in just a few months, its represents the core technology that will enable BDG to develop one of the nation's largest broadband, interactive networks."

In early January, Broadband Digital Group teamed with Winfire to launch FreeDSL, a high-speed Internet service. For FreeDSL, Winfire developed a customized browser assistant, which was displayed as a small navigational bar on users' computer screens while they are online.

Winfire, which released its first public browser assistant in August 1999, had quickly established itself as the market leader in the category, having signed more than 100 content and distribution partners.



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