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Hotmail alum hope for Godspeed with new venture

Hotmail founder Jack Smith and another Hotmail alum are among the players in a stealth e-mail infrastructure company called Godspeed Networks.

Hotmail founder Jack Smith and another Hotmail alum are among the players in a new, stealth e-mail infrastructure company called Godspeed Networks, which hopes to launch its product--whatever it may be--by year-end.

Smith and other angel investors have quietly pumped about $2.5 million into the company, which Smith described as "going for the pain points" of e-mail infrastructure, namely speed, reliability and adapting to demand.

Smith co-founded Hotmail with fellow Apple Computer and Firepower staffer Sabeer Bhatia. The partners sold the Web-based e-mail service to Microsoft on Dec. 31, 1997, in a deal valued at nearly $400 million.

Scott Weiss, who headed business development at Hotmail, is serving as Godspeed's chief executive. Scott Banister is the company's vice president of products. Banister was founder of Listbot, the largest e-mail list on the Web. Banister and Weiss were also co-workers at Idealab. Both left the troubled start-up incubator last year.

"This is something we could have considered doing at Idealab had we not left," Weiss said.

Weiss and Banister were coy about what Godspeed is working on, preferring to drop hints rather than divulge a full-blown description of the company's products and goals.

Both described it as an e-mail infrastructure play that hopes to patch holes in the existing network--not create an entire new e-mail system. The company will also strictly address infrastructure problems rather than try to sell something to individual consumers.

"We're trying to keep under the radar," Weiss said.

Banister expects the Godspeed products to start emerging by the end of this year.

But both had no trouble talking about the company name. No, Banister said, the company isn't getting into the religious spam business.

"Godspeed is a successful journey, which applied to e-mail and the success of our company," he said.