AnchorFree’s ad-supported VPN, Hotspot Shield, has been on a tear in the last year. The tool, which people use to protect their browsing privacy and also to access blocked web content, now has more than 7 million monthly users and 1.3 billion pages encrypted per month. Hotspot Shield’s userbase, which tripled in the last 12 months, is filled with expats — such as U.S. Army soldiers and businesspeople in China — according to CEO David Gorodyansky, who stopped by GigaOM today for an interview (see video below). More than 80 percent of Hotspot Shield users are browsing in English, while more than half of users are international. With that geeky, globetrotting demographic, the most effective ads on the service are tech and travel.
Sunnyvale, Calif.-based AnchorFree has raised $11 million in rounds led by Renaissance Capital, and has been profitable since May 2009. It has just 18 employees but a handles an immense amount of bandwidth, given it encrypts every page to which its users browse.
We spoke to Gorodyansky about the paradox of behavioral targeting to a userbase that explicitly wants to be anonymous and other topics in the 10-minute interview embedded here.