Netzero bought FreeInet around 1998. FreeInet was the first free national internet provider. NetZero was released in October 1998, founded by Ronald T. Burr (original CEO), Stacy Haitsuka, Marwan Zebian and Harold MacKenzie. NetZero grew to 1,000,000 users in six months. NetZero’s model was free Internet access to bring in an audience for highly targeted advertising. The ad serving technology has over nine patents and NetZero was the first company to invent real-time URL targeted advertising based upon surfing patterns under US patent 6,366,298  Monitoring of Individual Internet Usage. The pioneers raised $60 million in venture capital in 4 separate equity financings.
Venture investors included idealab, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Foundation Capital, Clearstone Venture Partners and Compaq. NetZero signed a distribution deal with Compaq and was the only ISP to be within the out-of-box experience (OOBE). In September 1999 NetZero went public on the NASDAQ exchange with 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 decided to an important deal that could see NetZero replace Prudential Financial as the sponsor for the network’s NBA halftime studio show, titled “NetZero @ The Half”, which gave NetZero a much larger audience because of its product.
In late 1999 several other companies started to copy the Netzero com Message Center free access model including Juno Online Services, (which since August 1996 had offered E-mail however, not Web access for free), Spinway launched with Yahoo! and AltaVista, Freei and BlueLight Internet, which had been originally owned by Kmart. They claimed to offer free Internet service forever, to acquire displaying ads, either on a permanent toolbar or on a “banner” which had been shown when online. NetZero sued them for infringing on a banner ad patent. Following the dot-com bust during early 2000, NetZero acquired its competitors as each went bankrupt. Furthermore NetZero acquired AimTV which displayed full video quality 30 second ad spots as well as Simpli and RocketCash.
Starting in January 2001, NetZero began charging for access time over 40 hours per month. Users who exceeded 40 hours were directed to the company’s “Platinum” service, which provided unlimited access for $9.95 monthly. With all the income statement reinvigorated through charging heavier users of the system, NetZero merged featuring its rival Juno Online Services and made a new holding company, United Online which traded on NASDAQ under the symbol UNTD until Netzero was acquired by B. Riley Financial in July 2016. NetZero later lowered the threshold for his or her free company to 10 hours per month.
NetZero has versions of the 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 as being for Linspire, however the software might be set up on any Debian-based i386 or x86-64 Linux distribution; NetZero can also be placed on any RPM-based Linux distribution as long as Alien is utilized to transform the NetZero Debian package into an RPM package. Additionally, the Linux version requires the Java Runtime Environment to become installed before use of the NetZero dialer. Though the current Linux version in the dialer no longer functions properly using the service since 2009.