Feb 13 2007

Spam Spam Spam and Salesforce.com

I’ve been investing in Internet-related email stuff since 1995.  I still remember when I got my first Internet email address (brad@id.wing.net) back in 1994 – shortly before I figured out I could set up email on brad@feld.com.  Email has evolved in some amazing ways over the last 12 years while at the same time standing still in others (thanks Mr. SMTP – both directions.)

In 2000, I started noticing spam again.  I think the first time I heard “spam” was in college – one of the guys in my fraternity (John Underkoffler) loved to do all kinds of bizarre things with spam (except eat it) – at some point in the mid 1980’s I learned what email spam was.  Between 1995 and 2000 I occasionally got some spam, but it usually just pointed me to an online porn site which was still a novelty at that point in time.

I can’t remember what eventually slapped me in the face, but one day I woke up and realized that spam was going to be a huge problem.  A gang of us got together (me, Chris, Ryan) – all who had done lots of things with email – and we ended up making two investments – Return Path and Postini – that addressed different parts of the spam issue (and have both been extremely successful, exciting, and well run companies that I’m proud of.)

When I started blogging in 2004, it was obvious to me that comment and trackback spam would be a problem.  So far almost all the solutions to “blam” (my word for “blog spam”) have been weak and similar to several of the early and not particularly durable solutions to email spam.  Akismet moved things up a level, but still has its share of issues, especially when faced with a new type of attack.  Oh – and the attacks so far are very unsophisticated (although getting more so quickly.)

Today, I noticed Rick Klau’s (from FeedBurner) post on Salesforce.com spam.  It’s great and has a lot of details about the issues he is facing in his Salesforce.com fight with spam along with details about his current solution.  It’s a little surprising that Salesforce.com doesn’t view this as “their problem”, but then again Microsoft said spam would be gone by 2004.

The endless war against the Internet Axis of Evil continues.  Where is Jack Bauer when you need him?