Conduit, a service that enables web publishers to easily create their own toolbars for Internet Explorer and Firefox, has raised $8M in a Series B round with Benchmark Capital.
We covered Conduit a couple of times early last year when the company had 25,000 partners and 5M toolbar installs. The company now has 140,000 partners with 12M+ installs. The company is cash-flow positive and describes its “web community toolbar” offering as a superior alternative to personalized homepages like Netvibes or Pageflakes, which it says require too much time to set up.
I’m not a big fan of browser toolbars myself; all the major browsers have search functionality and pop-up blockers built into them these days, bookmarks work just fine for me, and RSS readers do a better job aggregating the content I want to read anyway. But I can see publishers loving toolbars since they effectively market their brands by showing their logos to users every time they surf the net. And they are probably quite appealing to users who are loyal fans of very few sites, and who don’t care about giving up a little browser real estate space.