With longtime friend Gersham Meharg we iterated from running an IMAP-based mail server for ourselves to hosting for friends, friends’ companies, and eventually the general public. The service evolved as our needs grew and as we worked to combat problems such as spam. To our knowledge we were among the first handful of services to offer IMAP messaging, large mailbox sizes, large attachment sizes, SSL security, and robust anti-spam mechanisms. We also developed robust server-based rules and configuration tools, which previously were only available to users with command-line UNIX access.
Geekmail was for power users. We demonstrated considerable innovation in anti-spam technology. Unlike every other provider, we focused our spam fighting effort not on eliminating false negatives, but using the context of the user’s sent mail and inbox to eliminate false positives. This allowed us to decrease the tolerances on off-the-shelf heuristic-based anti-spam tools, layered behind our aggressive server-based spam filtering techniques. As a result of our multi-layered approach we could claim some of the best spam filtering statistics in the world.
Geekmail thrived until 2004, when GMail’s launch and Yahoo’s acquisition of Outblaze made clear that this would be a marketplace in which we’d be unlikely to compete successfully. After a former employee launched a series of spurious lawsuits we decided to shutter the service. While we defeated these in court, the prospect of spending years in a lawsuit without being able to support the growth of the service financially was too daunting.
Not surprisingly, Geekmail was particularly popular among geeks and other email connoisseurs. Our NSFW t-shirts were also quite popular: