There’s potential bad news in the war against unsolicited email: Deersoft has been acquired by Network Associates. What’s so bad about this? Well, Deersoft is the company set up by the makers of SpamAssassin to market the awesome spamfighting application to corporations, and with its acquisition, the two leading developers on the project are now lost to the world of proprietary software. (In addition, the third major developer, and the sole developer of version 3.0 of SpamAssassin, left the project this morning, since he’s employed by a competitor of Network Associates’.) The FAQ acknowledges NAI’s dedication to making any new development proprietary, which makes me fear that there won’t be much more magic coming from SpamAssassin without opening up your wallet.


Actually Deersoft as a company has been around for years. I’ve been a customer of theirs since 1998 or so, when they bought up a shareware FTP server called serv-u. So I’m not so sure the connection between Spammassassin, Deersoft, and NAI is so strong, and I would have to say the statement “…Deersoft is the company set up by the makers of SpamAssassin to market the awesome spamfighting application to corporations” would be false.

It’s my understanding that Deersoft simply ported the SA code to a windows eudora plugin, no? That one of the SA developers now has a conflict of interest does kind of suck, but I wasn’t aware of any strong relationship between the open source SA project and Deersoft, at least before they ported the eudora plugin.

• Posted by: mathowie on Jan 8, 2003, 10:47 AM

No, Matt, Deersoft was formed to market the open-source SpamAssassin project, and RhinoSoft is the company that makes Serv-U. (Yeah, the whole thing has sorta that O’Reilly book feel to it.)

From Deersoft’s About page (archived here if it the merger kills the page as it did the product pages):

Deersoft’s SpamAssassin spam filters began as an open source solution to fighting spam. The original components of the software were developed in 2001 by Justin Mason, an Ireland-based IT programmer. Looking for a solution to his own mounting spam problems, Deersoft co-founder Craig Hughes began using SpamAssassin anti-spam technology and was so impressed he teamed up with Mason to further develop the software as a hobby. The two worked together for several months on refining the open source product.

Hughes and Mason were supported by contributions from the open source community, and cheered on by more than 30,000 system administrators, whose users raved at the quality and simplicity of SpamAssassin spam filters. In early 2002, Hughes was introduced to venture capitalist and entrepreneur Gordon Kruberg, who has founded, financed, or played operating and strategic executive roles in more than 30 startups. Together, they launched Deersoft, Inc., in June 2002, followed quickly by their first product, SpamAssassin Pro™ for Microsoft® Outlook.

• Posted by: Jason on Jan 8, 2003, 12:20 PM

D’oh, I got my rhinos and deers mixed up. Sorry, you’re right.

• Posted by: mathowie on Jan 9, 2003, 1:06 PM

PGP all over again.

• Posted by: Derek on Jan 10, 2003, 1:55 PM
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