Amazing Internet Products
Brad Bournival might have been precocious at chess, but his first attempt at spamming was downright pitiful. In October 2001, he mailed ads for an herbal energy pill to a list of 50,000 email addresses. Hawke said he had bought the list from Alan “Dr. Fatburn” Moore, who had harvested them from eBay. The addresses usually gave Hawke a good response rate—nearly two-tenths of a percent—so Bournival braced himself for a deluge of around one hundred orders worth several thousand dollars.
A week went by, and he mysteriously still hadn’t received a single order.
Bournival stuck with it, though. After some additional coaching from Hawke, the 17-year-old was soon pulling down nearly one thousand dollars each week as a spammer, mostly from sales of pheromone cologne and ink-jet refill kits. The money was proof that he had made the right decision to drop out of school. Young relatives and friends still in school had no money or were working minimum-wage jobs, jealous of his new career as an Internet entrepreneur.
On Hawke’s suggestion, Bournival plowed some of his spamming profits back into the business. He bought a couple of new computers and had a DSL line installed in his mother’s apartment on Montgomery Street in Manchester. The phone company didn’t do inside wiring, so Bournival had to snake the wire from the network interface box at the back of the building up the siding and into a window on the second floor. Inside, he used duct tape to secure the ...