Digital Rights Management comes to email in mission impossible style.
- 06 November, 2007 09:19
Email sender remorse is a thing of the past, if Bigstring.com CEO and founder Darin Myman has his way. The start up has developed a service that allows emails to be edited, recalled, or made to self-destruct. Emails, videos and pictures can also be rendered non printable, non-save-able or and / or non-forward-able.
While other vendors allow non-forwarding email and email recall to varying degrees, Bigstring appears to be the first company to bring a full featured recallable, destructible, editable email service to market.
The free service offers self-destructing, non printable, non-forward-able, advanced tracking, masquerading, recallable, view-once and erasable email, with spam and virus filters, attachment capacity, around the clock support and 1 GB storage. Two upgrades are also available. For US$29.95, Bigstring premium offers a free account with a personalised domain name, POP3 access using any email client and 2GB of storage. For US$12.50 a month, Bigstring Business allows 20 GB of storage, 10 email accounts, advanced email management and contact management.
PC World Australia talks with Darin Myman, via self-destructing email, about his business, where it started, where it is heading and how it lends itself to the world of Web 2.0 and social networking.
On your website you say that three years ago, the Bigstring founders set out to build "the best Spam fighting email system on the planet", and then, quite by accident, you invented the world's first fully erasable email and didn't even realize it. What happened?
At the time when I came up with the idea for Bigstring we were working on email anti-spam product, when I accidentally sent an email with the wrong attachment to a potential client. In a panic I went to our developers and asked if there was anyway to get an email back. They of course said no.
Earlier that week a friend of mine who was going through a nasty divorce found out that his wife had gained access to one of his email accounts. When he told me, I said wouldn't be great if they had a shredder for email. These two accidental events led to the creation of Bigstring.
Why do you think no one else has thought of this before you guys brought it to market?
We have all seen movies and television shows where messages self-destruct- I guess no one ever sat down and came up with an easy to use system that does it for email.
You launched your business in 2004. How long were you developing the product prior to launch?
Over a year.
Can you elaborate a little on how the service actually works?
Essentially we created a fax machine for email. When you hit send we create an exact replica of your email that streams into the recipient's inbox when it opens. It disappears when the sender cuts the string, either by hitting self-destruct or setting a predetermined amount of views or time it can be seen. Essentially we have created a personalized digital rights management tool. You decide how long a message, picture or video can be seen.
What spam and virus protection do you use?
(We use) third party software such as SpamAssassin and ClamAV in addition to in-house developed proprietary software.
What growth have you seen since you launched?
We just moved to the free model last December and already added almost 150,000 new accounts.
What is your primary target market?
We primarily target the consumer market.
You mention target users as including online daters. Is Bigstring considering partnering with online dating services at all in the future?
Currently we have not partnered with anyone dating site- but would consider it in the future.
Is Bigstring looking for any development or reseller partners at all? If so, what types?
We are open to the idea of third party resellers, and we offer an affiliate program on shareasale.
Prior to Bigstring, you co-founded LiveInsurance.com where he was responsible for developing the business model, and before that you were vice president of the Online Brokerage Services Unit at Westminster Securities Corporation, where you conceptualized, designed and built LiveBroker.com. Have these past roles contributed to your role at Bigstring and how?
Many of the same people that were at LiveInsurance are on the team or have helped with Bigstring. Bigstring is your basic start up story of a group of guys getting together and making an idea happen with relatively few resources.
How many staff do you employ, and how many of these are developers?
We have a staff of seven with 3 full time developers. Additionally we outsource some development work from time to time when needed
What main development tools do you rely on?
Among the vast amounts of development tools we use are PHPeD, Dreamweaver, flash CS3, Navicat, visual studio 8 and Zend Studio professional.
What infrastructure do you use to host your service?
BigString uses Redhat EL4, Fedora core 6,7,8, Free BSD, MS Windows XP, and a small subset of VMWARE workstation virtual servers.
Does the social networking and web 2.0 phenomenon create an extra market potential for Bigstring to tap into?
We think that the growth and acceptance of social networking and the web 2.0 phenomenon is creating a huge market opportunity for Bigstring. Our messaging products lend themselves to protect your privacy and digital rights to your intellectual property such as pictures and video. As people share more and more personal info and pictures, the need for Bigstring will grow- and social networking is fostering this growth.
There is concern by some musicians and artists in the digital age about copyright. How could Bigstring services be utilised to address some of these concerns now, and also in the future?
Musicians and artists can utilize Bigstring is to limit the viewing of video and images they create. This helps alleviate the problem that intellectual property will end up on YouTube. Our motto is "Don't get YouTubed."
How do you combat the potential for this service to be misused by people wanting to send untraceable abusive emails or other offensive/criminal material?
As an email company that offers free email we share the same concerns about our email service being abused that Yahoo, Hotmail, Google and the other free providers have. We have a policy of full cooperation with government agencies and investigate internally all complaints about abuse.
What is next for Bigstring: what are you developing or focusing on right now?
Now we are focusing the company to be the Web 2.0 email platform where all of our features will become a staple of messaging on the Internet.