Return Path Acquires Bonded Sender

E-mail services firm Return Path has acquired the Bonded Sender email whitelist service from IronPort Systems. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Return Path will acquire all operational, marketing and development activities for the Bonded Sender Program, while IronPort will continue to provide the program’s infrastructure. IronPort founder and CEO Scott Weiss will be granted an undisclosed number of shares in Return Path, and join the company’s board of directors.

Return Path had been the largest reseller of the Bonded Sender service. After seeing the success of the program first-hand, the company decided it was in its best interest to bring the technology in-house, to put more marketing and financial muscle behind the program.

“For us, Bonded Sender is a perfect complement to the other things we’re doing in email deliverability,” said Matt Blumberg, Return Path chairman and CEO. “We want to expand the coverage of the service, both on the ISP side and the marketers side.”

The Bonded Sender Program allows legitimate email senders to post a financial bond to guarantee the messages they send are not spam. If enough end users complain they received spam from a bonded email server, the bond is debited on a per-complaint basis.

Senders must qualify for accreditation under the program’s strict guidelines, administered by TRUSTe. In addition to certification, TRUSTe also provides third-party oversight and dispute resolution services for the program. TRUSTe monitors sender complaint rates and audits compliance with program standards, and will continue its role in the Bonded Sender Program.

The program is in use on the receiving end by email providers including MSN, Hotmail and RoadRunner, as well as smaller ISPs. It’s also used by 35,000 corporate domains as part of their reputation-checking efforts. E-mail marketers using the program include Google, US Airways, Godiva Chocolates, Home Depot, CheetahMail and Harrah’s.

The deal comes just 10 months after Return Path’s last acquisition, that of email list management provider NetCreations.

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