The Washington Post

The company formerly known as Clearspring

McLean-based Clearspring will change its corporate moniker to AddThis, a name it will share with a Web widget. (Courtesy of AddThis)

The AddThis widget — a constellation of tiny icons that connect to such social networks as Twitter, Facebook and Google+ — now sits on 14 million Web pages and reaches 1.3 billion people a month, the firm said. That’s about equal to the population of China.

But for the widget’s ubiquity, many people may not take conscious notice of it or realize that the company behind tracks every time its used to share information.

The company could soon gain more visibility. The name change coincides with the debut of several tools that allow Web sites to engage more directly with their visitors.

An example of the AddThis widget, which now sits on 14 million Web pages. (Courtesy of AddThis)

These tools are powered by the reams of data that the company collects everytime a user shares a newspaper article or online video through its widget. Advertisers then pay to connect with those Web users whose interests best align with their products.

“When you look at the whole business AddThis really represents where we are, which is using big data to unlock the power of the social Web, but it also shows where we’re going with a set of new tools,” said co-founder and executive chairman Hooman Radfar.

The company has been called Clearspring since 2004 when the co-founders were graduate students at Carnegie Mellon University. They wrote down a series of keywords that could be used in a name, including “clear” and “spring,” and a classmate suggested they sounded good together.

“It was the name that we all thought was the best of the worst,” Radfar admits. “When we got to [the point of] incorporation, that was the one that stood out. When you’re picking a name, it’s always the hardest.

“For me personally there is a lot of emotion in the name change, but it’s very pragmatic,” he continued. “Our product has become bigger than our company and when you have something like that, you ride it.”

Steven Overly is a national reporter covering federal technology and energy policy with a focus on Capitol Hill. He previously covered the business of technology, biotechnology and venture capital.



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