Netzero bought FreeInet around 1998. FreeInet was the very first free national internet service provider. NetZero was launched in October 1998, founded by Ronald T. Burr (original Chief executive officer), Stacy Haitsuka, Marwan Zebian and Harold MacKenzie. NetZero grew to one thousand,000 users in half a year. NetZero’s design was free Internet access to draw in viewers for highly targeted advertising. The ad serving technology has over nine patents and NetZero was the initial company to invent real-time URL targeted advertising based upon surfing patterns under US patent 6,366,298  Monitoring of Individual Internet Usage. The founders raised $60 million in venture capital in four separate equity financings.
Venture investors included idealab, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Foundation Capital, Clearstone Venture Partners and Compaq. NetZero signed a distribution handle Compaq and was the sole ISP to get within the out-of-box experience (OOBE). In September 1999 NetZero went public on the NASDAQ exchange using the symbol NZRO. Mark Goldston was hired as CEO, Charles Hilliard was hired as CFO and Ronald Burr took the job of President and Chief Technology Officer. In December 1999, NetZero and NBC Sports agreed to a significant deal that could see NetZero replace Prudential Financial as the sponsor for that network’s NBA halftime studio show, titled “NetZero @ The Half”, which gave NetZero a lot larger audience for its product.
At the end of 1999 a number of other companies begun to copy the netzero.net message center free access model including Juno Online Services, (which since August 1996 had offered E-mail however, not Internet access for free), Spinway launched with Yahoo! and AltaVista, Freei and BlueLight Internet, which was originally belonging to Kmart. They claimed to offer free Internet service forever, to acquire displaying ads, either on the permanent toolbar or over a “banner” which was shown when online. NetZero sued them for infringing over a banner ad patent. Right after the dot-com bust in early 2000, NetZero acquired its competitors as each went bankrupt. In addition NetZero acquired AimTV which displayed full video quality 30 second ad spots along with Simpli and RocketCash.
Starting in January 2001, NetZero began charging for access time over 40 hours each month. Users who exceeded 40 hours were sent to the company’s “Platinum” service, which provided unlimited access for $9.95 monthly. With all the income statement reinvigorated through charging heavier users from the system, NetZero merged with its rival Juno Online Services and created a new holding company, United Online which traded on NASDAQ beneath the symbol UNTD until Netzero was acquired by B. Riley Financial in July 2016. NetZero later lowered the threshold for their free service to 10 hours each month.
NetZero has versions of their proprietary dial-up software for computers running Mac OS 9 or Mac OS X. NetZero previously offered a Linux version from the NetZero software advertised for being for Linspire, though the software may be placed on any Debian-based i386 or x86-64 Linux distribution; NetZero can be placed on any RPM-based Linux distribution provided that Alien is utilized to transform the NetZero Debian package into an RPM package. In addition, the Linux version requires the Java Runtime Environment to get installed before utilisation of the NetZero dialer. Though the current Linux version in the dialer will no longer functions properly with all the service since 2009.