Here comes the flood

CobraBoy (
Sat, 21 Sep 1996 09:06:03 -0700

Junk E-Mail: Obnoxious and Profitable


ending junk e-mail can be profitable, even if the recipients
are less
than receptive.

Cyber Promotions, Inc., the junk bulk e-mailer that
is locked in a court battle with America Online over
the right to send unsolicited e-mail to millions of the
online service's members, is expanding -- with a
new private network that is expected to cost nearly
a quarter of a million dollars when it is complete.

And that would be only a fraction of the company's
anticipated revenues this year, says Cyber
Promotion's president, Sanford A. Wallace.

The decision to build the new network was not
entirely voluntary. It was prompted by Cyber
Promotions's eviction this month from servers
owned by ServInt Corporation of McLean, Va., which until last
had provided the conduit through which the company's unsolicited
traveled to the Internet.

ServInt told Cyber Promotions to vacate its digital
space after CAIS, Inc., ServInt's Internet service
provider, instituted a policy in early August that
made sending bulk junk e-mail grounds for
suspension -- and possibly termination -- of service
if the mail raises a ruckus.

Mike Plantamura, general counsel for CAIS in
McLean, Va., said the policy specifically regulates
"unsolicited mass e-mailings (i.e. to more than 25
users) which provoke complaints from the

A growing number of complaints about unsolicited
mass e-mailings from Cyber Promotions prompted CAIS to pressure
ServInt to drop the mailer, Plantamura said. However, he said,
CAIS never
suspended or dropped ServInt; Cyber Promotions agreed to a timely
departure before that would happen.

ServInt's president, Reed Caldwell, added that he believed it was
in Cyber
Promotions's own "best interest" to build its own network,
because of the
company's tremendous growth.

Cyber Promotions's withdrawal began Sept. 9 and was completed by
September 19, Wallace said. Now the company has installed four of
its own
servers in Philadelphia and Dresher, Pa., and in a place in
Virginia that
Wallace said could not be named because of the "pending
litigation with
AOL and others maybe soon." Two more servers are expected to be
shortly, he said.

To date, the company has spent $60,000 installing the new
machines and
converting from Apple Macintosh computers to UNIX platforms, Wallace
said. The servers are connected to each other in local area via
Ethernet, and
hooked to the Internet through T1* lines to a company Wallace
would not
name. Within several months, he said, Cyber Promotions intends to
$150,000 to $200,000 to convert to T3* lines and grow its network to
between 20 and 30 servers.

By the end of the year, Wallace said
Cyber Promotions expects to earn
about $1 million, up from only
$30,000 two years ago, when the
company was founded as Promo
Enterprises. (It was incorporated
under its current name last January.)
Sales increased 67 percent between
just during the month of July, Wallace

While Cyber Promotions says that business is booming, however, a
survey of junk e-mail recipients revealed a growing unrest. The
conducted by Attard Communications of Centereach, N.Y., between Aug.
28 and Sept. 10, revealed that "two out of three users of online
and Internet
services wish there were laws to prohibit e-mail from being used
to send
junk mail and chain letters." The remaining one third, while they
didn't want
legislation regulating e-mail, also labeled junk e-mail "extremely

Janet Attard, owner of Attard Communications, said the survey had
participants, and was conducted in the Business Strategies forum on
America Online, in the Business Know-How forum on the Microsoft
Network and at Attard's own Business Know-How Web site.

A "handful" of the survey takers who objected to legislation
seemed to do
so, she said, because "they were using or planning to use e-mail
to send junk
mail themselves."

Which might explain why even as the din of complaints about e-mail
spammers grows louder, Cyber Promotions is planning to grow bigger.

After all, Wallace pointed out, obnoxious or not, "sending
unsolicited e-mail
is perfectly legal in this country."

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Steve Jobs, Triumph of the Nerds, PBS Documentary