Y Combinator Application: Spamr

Last Thursday, loonov.com reported that Alexey Tolstokozhev, the spammer responsible for a third of all viagra and penis enlargement spam was killed; he made about $2 million dollars a year.

My first thought was: what a great business opportunity! A third of the market is ripe for the picking. This is the second Russian spammer to be killed in two years. All we have to do is hire security and live in a country where people are rarely assassinated, and we’ll clean up. Unfortunately, it was a hoax; so much for our application.

What’s new about what you’re doing?

We plan to hire bodyguards. Also, we might try to generate natural language output that can avoid Bayesian filters. But mostly, we’ll concentrate on avoiding assassination.

What do you understand about your business that other companies in it just don’t get?

Being assassinated is bad.

How will you make money?

1. Spam

2. ???

3. Profit

Who are your competitors, and who might become competitors? Who do you fear most?

The Russian mafia, anyone who’s capable of sending email, and the Russian mafia.

What tools will you use to build your project?

bash + sendmail.

If you have an online demo, what’s the url?

We’ll be happy to demonstrate if you’d be so kind as to provide us with an email address.

How long will it take before you have a prototype? A beta? A version you can charge for?

Half an hour.

Which companies would be most likely to buy you?

Google.

If one wanted to buy you three months in (August 2007), what’s the lowest offer you’d take?

Assuming a 5% risk-free rate of return, $2M/yr is worth $40M, so lets say $20M.

Why would your project be hard for someone else to duplicate?

If they’re in Russia, they’re likely to be assassinated. If they’re in the US, like us, the social stigma associated with becoming a well known spammer will probably stop them.

What might go wrong? (This is a test of imagination, not confidence.)

We might be killed.

If you’ll have any major expenses beyond the living costs of your founders, Internet access, and servers, what will they be?

We expect physical security costs to be higher than is typical for a startup, but, following Tolstokozhev’s example, we can reduce bandwidth and colo costs by using botnets.

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Y Combinator Application: Spamr

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