Its name was later used interchangeably with its Gain advertising network, which it claimed serviced over 50 million users. Claria exited the adware business at the end of second quarter 2006, and eventually shut down completely in October 2008.
The "Gator" (also known as Gain AdServer) products collected personal information from its unknowing users, including all websites visited and portions of credit card numbers to target and display ads on the computers of web surfers. It billed itself as the "leader in online behavioral marketing". The company changed its name to Claria Corporation on October 30, 2003 in an effort to "better communicate the expanding breadth of offerings that provide to consumers and advertisers", according to CEO and President Jeff McFadden.
Originally released in 1999, Gator was most frequently installed together with programs being offered free of charge, such as Go!Zilla, or Kazaa. The development of these programs was partially funded by revenue from advertising displayed by Gator. By mid-2003 Gator was installed on an estimated 35 million PCs.
Even though Gator was installed with an uninstall available via Add/Remove Programs in the Control Panel on Microsoft Windows, many spyware removal tools can also detect and remove it. Gator's end user license agreement attempts to disallow its manual removal by prohibiting "unauthorized means" of uninstallation.
The Gator software undercut the fundamental ad-supported nature of many Internet publishers by replacing banner ads on web sites with its own, thereby depriving the content provider of the revenue necessary to continue providing that content. In June 2002 a number of large publishers, including the New York Post, The New York Times, and Dow Jones & Company, sued Gator Software for its practice of replacing ads. Most of the lawsuits were settled out of court in February 2003.
As part of a settlement signed Sept. 30, (2003), PC Pitstop--which scans computers for hostile and otherwise undesirable code--removed pages from its Spyware Information Center with such titles as "Is Gator Spyware?" and the "Gator Boycott List."