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Mobile Targeting Firm Ringleader Digital Vanishes

  |  July 8, 2011   |  Comments

Company may have ceased operations.

Mobile ad targeting company Ringleader Digital appears to have closed. Its staff is no longer answering or returning phone calls and emails, and one source at a digital agency suggested to ClickZ that the firm ceased operations last month.

A doorman in the lobby at the address listed on Ringleader's corporate website - 286 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY – said the company's offices have been locked since the beginning of the month and no one has entered the premises since. Meanwhile, CEO Bob Walczak's LinkedIn profile states he's left the company this month after a six-year stint.

Calls made to board members and investors at investment firm Stage 1 Ventures in Waltham, MA, were not returned on Friday. Calls and emails to other Ringleader employees and advisors, as listed on its site, were also not returned.

The company's website and voicemail systems remain operational, and ClickZ was unable to confirm whether or not it has officially shuttered its operations. It could, for example, be seeking a buyer.

In March, Ringleader was in talks with online ad providers AOL and Microsoft, which supposedly planned to use its products to target and track mobile ads more effectively.

Ringleader's technology, often referred to as device fingerprinting, can identify unique devices without the use of cookies - the technology on which most desktop behavioral targeting is based. Ringleader itself has described its offering as a "mobile cookie."

The fingerprinting process has raised privacy concerns in some quarters, though, and Ringleader found itself on the receiving end of a class action suit brought late last year, which it opted to settle out of court. The suit referred to the company's alleged abuse of HTML5 database storage on the iPhone and the iPad, through which it is accused of planting tracking IDs on users' devices without their knowledge.

"It's never fun to have a lawsuit filed against you, but we learned we have to be a lot more transparent," Walczak told ClickZ at the time. He added, though, that the majority of the company's clients stuck with it despite the legal issues. Walczak could not be reached for comment on this story.

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Jack Marshall

Jack Marshall was a staff writer and stats editor for ClickZ News from 2007 until August 2011. 

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