Spokesperson Steve Stratz said that the layoffs are part of a strategic decision to focus efforts on the company's new Platrium offering, a casual gaming site launched in beta last month. "It has become clear that this new product is the future of the company, and as a result, Zango is narrowing its focus," Stratz said in a statement e-mailed to Online Media Daily. The layoffs will cut across the company's six offices in four countries, Stratz said.
A June 2 post on the Zango blog said that the games on Platrium will be available for free to users who install a toolbar from the company. That post also said users would not receive pop-up ads. But the company said in a separate June 2 statement that the playbar will include "slider" ads, which it characterized as "similar to an instant messaging notification in both size and delivery mode."
Anti-spyware activists have long complained that Zango's pop-up-serving software was landing on desktops of users who had not voluntarily downloaded it. In 2006, the Bellevue, Wash.-based Zango agreed to pay $3 million to settle a Federal Trade Commission complaint relating to allegedly improper installations. As part of that case, Zango agreed to refrain from installing adware without first making sure that people consented, and to monitor third-party distributors to make sure they aren't installing the software without consent.
More recently, Zango has been arguing in a federal appellate court that it should be allowed to proceed with a lawsuit against anti-spyware company Kaspersky Lab, which removes Zango from users' computers. A trial judge dismissed Zango's lawsuit on the grounds that the Communications Decency Act immunizes companies that help users remove objectionable content. Zango has asked the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn that ruling.