While Microsoft is better known for its Windows desktop software platform, the company is also one of the largest online companies. This is due to the popularity of three of its biggest web sites; Bing.com, MSN.com and Hotmail.com. Microsoft was founded in 1985 by Bill Gates as a software company and entered into the online arena in 1997 when it purchased Hotmail.com for 400 million dollars. The company has since acquired and launched over 50 other internet based properties.
Myspace was founded by Brad Greenspan, Chris DeWolfe, Josh Berman and Tom Anderson (the famous “Tom” on the Myspace.com website). The site was created to replicate and improve upon the features of Friendster.com. In 2006, Myspace became the world’s largest social network, only to be overtaken by Facebook.com in 2008. The website was purchased by News Corp in 2005 for $580 million dollars. While Myspace does not release traffic statistics for the website, traffic is estimated to be over 40 million unique visits per month.
Craigslist was created by Craig Newmark in 1995 and began as a simple email list between friends of local events. In 1996, Craig changed the model of the service from an email list to a website on the craigslist.com domain. Today, craigslist is the world’s largest classified advertising source, allowing individuals to freely post and purchase virtually any item they wish. Craigslist is a privately held company and does not release revenue figured to the public, but it is estimated to generate over $150 million dollars per year in sponsored listings and advertising revenue.
Buy.com Inc. began as an online electronics retailer in 1997 and quickly expanded into a number of other categories. The company was founded by Scott Blum, who sold the website to SoftBank in 1999 for a reported $195 million dollars. Mr. Blum reacquired the site in 2001 after the company was made public and suffered a major loss in the value of its outstanding stocks. In 2010, the company was acquired by a Japanese company called Rakuten, Inc. for $250 million dollars. Today, buy.com generates over $300 million dollars in revenue per year.
About.com is an online information portal that was launched in early 1997 by Scott Kurnit, Bill Day, and a group of entrepreneurs from New York City. The site was sold to Primedia in 2000 for $690 million dollars and was later acquired by the New York Times in 2005 for $410 million dollars. About.com provides users with guides, tutorials and articles on a verity of subjects, each containing in depth information on the subject along with relative links to related websites. The company drives the majority of its traffic from internet search engines and online advertising partnerships. About.com recently release financial statistics showing annual revenue of over $30 million dollars.