AdForce Pulls the Plug

A deal orchestrated to keep AdForce afloat as a subsidiary of New York-based Thin Portal Networks has gone south, resulting in the ad server’s termination of services.

According to sources close to Cupertino, Calif.-based AdForce, the company shut down all operations on Friday — after its owner, Internet holding company CMGI, cut off funding in June.

The impending termination of its services had spelled disaster for publishers who used AdForce as their ad server, and who hadn’t found an alternate provider. All the major ad networks with their own serving solutions — like 24/7 Media, DoubleClick and Real Media — made out well through the debacle, sweeping up a host of publishing clients.

But 24/7 Media also faced a serious problem — it hadn’t deployed its in-house Connect ad serving product in Europe, where it still relied on AdForce. Last week, executives from the New York-based firm outlined a plan that would have taken until early August. But separately, Connect general manager Vivienne Dacey had said through spokespeople that the transition would occur “well in advance” of any AdForce shutdown.

Proving as good as her word, Dacey told on Friday that all 24/7 Media Europe clients had been transitioned to Connect.

“We did it way ahead of what we had said it would take,” she said. “We were very anxious about the situation with AdForce and didn’t want to be in a situation where we would harm publishers. We have a lot of sites, and we wanted to do everyone with a smooth transition, and we’re delighted it went so well.”

Dacey also said the new switch-over hadn’t been subject to the same difficulties that plagued an earlier, domestic transition from AdForce to Connect.

“That was 15 months ago, and that was the first transition that we’d done,” she said. “The product is much more mature now, so conversions are no problem for us. Now that we have an ASP product, we have everything in place and product plans already developed to do conversion … so that any one who wants to do a conversion to us is a smooth transition, and that of course is the goal.”

Spokespeople from CMGI, AdForce, and AdForce’s liquidator did not return phone calls for comment.

As for colocation firm Thin Portal, the company had intended to reconstitute AdForce’s serving technology to service new and existing clients. Now, obviously, those particular plans have been shelved.

“AdForce has world class technology that is highly scalable and redundant, and could easily match and exceed their competitors’ capabilities,” said Thin Portal chief technical officer Vincent Liggio. “It’s a shame that it appears that all of this will just be disassembled and auctioned off like so many other dot-com liquidations.”

David Simon, Thin Portal’s chief executive, did not return inquiries by press time about whether the company was still pursuing an ad serving strategy.

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