Four years on: Slippery Email

Four years ago I launched a small experiment called Slippery Email. The idea was to make it really, really easy to set up a burner email account to avoid spam. Inspired by low-friction services like WeTransfer, I set about building the same sort of thing for email.

Sure, other disposable email services already existed, but I thought I could make something simpler, something better. For example, some other disposable email services ask you to choose the email address you want and, rather than tell you that name has already been taken, allows you to choose david@________.com (and lets you see all of the previous David’s mail… not cool).

My solution was to auto-generate email addresses which could be ‘claimed’ with a single click. The mailbox URL also contained a secret string, allowing users to bookmark the mailbox and access it again in future without a password.

The service launched in June 2014 and quickly found a following, despite zero marketing spend. Within a couple of months it was attracting 500 users per week, which has grown organically to over 4,000 users per week creating more than 30,000 mailboxes per month.

Since Slippery Email launched, over 750,000 mailboxes have been created and 6.3 million messages handed by the service. Each day it’s used for everything from signing up for free marketing offers to planning extra-marital affairs, and even by developers beta testing other email services.

Slippery Email has been more popular — and more reliable — than I ever expected when I built it in 2014. There’s plenty that could be done to turn it into a viable business in its own right (for example, users regularly get in touch asking if they can pay to recover expired mailboxes) but the truth is, with a very-full-time job and two small kids I simply don’t have the time to devote to the site that it needs.

So, I’m planning to shut down Slippery Email in the next few weeks to allow me to focus 100% on my family and the day job. If someone else wants to take it on, all I’d ask for in return is my expenses to date to be covered.

Drop me a note via the contact page if you have any questions or are interested in taking over Slippery Email.

In the interest of full disclosure, here are the pros & cons as we stand right now…

Pros

  • #1 Google ranking for ‘burner email’
  • 22K sessions per month, growing steadily, all organic
  • 1M page views per year
  • Great metrics: 21% bounce rate; average session over 4 minutes
  • Very simple, reliable code base
  • Cheap to run (around £30 per month and could be cheaper)
  • I have half a dozen simple, feasible ideas for monetisation
  • A great domain name!

Cons

  • Currently no ads or other revenue stream on the site
  • It could do with a proper legal entity to support it (e.g. from a GDPR / privacy perspective)
  • No fancy frameworks or shiny toolkits, just simple, reliable PHP and MySQL