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Boxbe: Get a Cut of Your Email Spam

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Boxbe, an email service that charges marketers to email its users, launched this week. The idea is you use your Boxbe address (mine is [email protected]) to sign up for throwaway services and lists. If someone uses the address to email you, they are given the option of paying a fee (mine is set at 10 cents, of which I receive 75 percent) or completing a test to prove you’re a human (a captcha). So basically, the fee will only come into play for mass marketing emails.

Self-funded Boxbe, which is based in San Francisco, stems from founder Thede Loder’s graduate research on the economics of communication and particularly email spam. The company hopes it can aggregate a large enough body of users to prompt advertisers to register to automate fee payment through its system. Critical mass will be even more of an issue than usual for this startup. Loder admits advertisers would want 100,000 to 200,000 users of the service in order to conduct a worthwhile trial.

Once it gets going, Boxbe will try to get users to will volunteer their profile information so it can be fed into an anonymized email alias to be distributed to marketers. Why would you do that? Well, maybe you’re interested in highly targeted marketing emails…or maybe you’re interested in making money off them.

Charging for email is a contentious issue, but Boxbe claims it’s above the fray by putting power in the hands of the user. (If you don’t want so many emails, simply raise your price, says Loder.) This does bear much similarity to bubbly opt-in advertising schemes that seem to be making a comeback (we wrote about AGLOCO, the second coming of AllAdvantage, last week), but at least there’s some actual utility to having a throwaway email address. Of course, it’s not so hard to get a free email account from, say, Hotmail. Others in the challenge-response email space include Mailblocks (acquired by AOL) and Spam Arrest. But if you want to make money from being spammed, Boxbe may be worth a shot.

18 Responses to “Boxbe: Get a Cut of Your Email Spam”

  1. Boxbe is creating SPAM in the name of SPAM prevention.
    BEWARE! Do not sign up.

    This is from Wiki:
    If you do sign up, Boxbe will automatically contact EVERYONE in your address book with an email (looking like it was from you – signed by you) trying to coax your associates into signing up with Boxbe!

  2. Tried this service and found a peculiar problem – “white hat blowback” similar to spam blowback.

    Consider this: I’m on’s newsletter. When my Yahoo inbox received an email that wasnt tagged by me as legit, Boxbe automatically responded with an “identify yourself!” – which of course went to an auto-responder, which then responded with “Sorry I cant respond, write to this address instead” which then Boxbe replied with “Identify yourself”… you get the picture…

    Thoughts guys??

  3. I’ve seen a lot of these types of services trying to get rich off the consumer who buys into what looks like a great service for them, but really serves the marketer…I don’t think this service serves anyone except Boxbe

  4. Boxbe is a really bad idea. I feel sorry for any investor. Sounds like a bunch of kids working out of their garage. Another wannabe get rich off the internet scheme. Ho Hum.

  5. this would make me actually consider manipulating my consumption.. if somebody is willing to pay me (even though a few cents is nothing to a corporation) to take a look at their offers, it would be a plus to them. In a sense that one would actually read the advertisement rather than delete it prematurely. Also, richie… those willing to pay for you to read what they are producing seem to me as if they should fall into a different category from spammers.

    [email protected]

  6. the thing is. if this thing catches on and everyone uses it, then advertisers will be forced to either pay to send spam or don’t send at all.. isn’t that what this service and its users are hoping for?

  7. The trouble with throwaway email addresses is that you need to keep throwing them away. It sounds like Boxbe would let you use the same address over and over. Many marketers probably wouldn’t email you if it meant paying a fee and would drop your name from their lists.
    This would not be good news for boxbe’s business model, of course.

  8. I was shocked to see how cheap it was to hire people to solve CAPTCHA’s, over the net. (not that I did, but I read about it!). I think it was around $50 for 40 hours. That’s lot of CAPTCHA’s, and I’m guessing spammers will rather do that, than pay (more)…

  9. This service looks kinda cool. So I signed up.

    I don’t think there’s much money for a single email recipient but paying me a dime to prove your offer is worth my attention seems simple, and smart.

    Also, didn’t AllAdvantage only work by an elaborate pyramid scheme?