Dries Buytaert

Mollom 2009 retrospective

For Mollom, milestones came fast in 2009. First, we celebrated that Mollom had blocked 25 million spam messages. Two months later we celebrated that Mollom had blocked 50 million spam messages. Fast forward another 3 months, and Mollom blocked 100 million spam messages. We ended the year with 163 million spam messages blocked (700% annual growth, up from 21 million in 2008) and 15,000 sites actively using Mollom (330% annual growth, up from 4,500 sites in 2008).

Not included in any of those statistics is the fact that Mollom partnered with Netlog in 2009, one of the fastest-growing web communities in Europe. Mollom is now protecting the messages of more than 40 million Netlog members, in more than 25 different languages. Each day, Netlog members exchange more than 4 million messages, all analyzed by Mollom for spam and unwanted content in real-time.

Last year, we spent a lot of time dealing with the pains of, frankly, our unexpected growth. We're handling well over 200 million HTTP requests each month, making Mollom the largest web service I've ever helped build — a very fun and rewarding experience from the technology side. We launched additional servers and rewrote our backend infrastructure to improve scalability and ease of management. True success is measured by the fact that we had to purchase solid state disk drives (SSD) because we needed at least 100 times faster read and write times than regular hard disks could deliver. ;)

But best of all, on the business side, we were able to increase our investments while steering the company to profitability. That is a big win, because it proves that the business model works.

I predict that in 2010 we'll continue to do much of the same but that you'll also see some more "visible" changes — maybe a new website, and almost certainly some new APIs and functionality to better combat spam. Blocking spam is a really hard problem, and spammers continue to adapt and refine their techniques. We have more work to do, but are committed to winning the spam game. But spam is only part of the problem in website moderation, this is why I expect that in 2010 Mollom will start providing solutions for different aspects such as language detection, content quality, profanity and malicious content.

Will we grow as fast in 2010? Only time will tell. We're a very small company, but Mollom has barely scratched the surface of its potential, so I have every reason to believe that 2010 will be another great year for Mollom.

— Dries Buytaert

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