Monday, October 23, 2006

Goodtree Scam

Today I got a mail from a friend,

He was inviting me to a new website called GoodTree

"I just found out that Google, Yahoo and Microsoft are contributing their technology to a new website called GoodTree that gives money to charity when you use it.

It's invitation only. I thought you'd love it"

From the wording I was sure that it was an automated mail. But the wording also made me nervous, it has that touch of a scam. So I clicked the "Accept" button

And I got this website. update: see the encircled (red) area, they are making people believe that this is some venture by Google, Yahoo and Microsoft!.

I checked "Women" and clicked continue and got to this page..

This was it! Yet another scam to get their personal information. Im pretty sure, by this time scores of people must have submitted their personal information here. But I hope this post will convince some to stay away from this website.

I written a new post on Goodtree here


James Currier said...

This is the CEO of GoodTree. Sorry for the confusion about who and what we are! We are a legitimate website. Like other sites such as Myspace and Yelp, we allow our users to use their address books to send invitations to friends to come to GoodTree. We do not store passwords and we are not phishing for personal information. The email that is sent is automated simply because we found if we left the email editable, scammers would paste their ads for pills and stock picks etc and then send out emails to many people off our servers. More information about us can be found on our FAQ

Anonymous said...

Mr Currier,
Thank you for your comment. Could you please check this link from google
and ask your engineers to use google api to access address book.
you dont need google password of users to access their address book if that is your intention. Many good websites do that, they ask for your email address and your consent to access address book and when you consent you will be taken to google website where they can enter their google password and grant access for your website to use their address book.
Number two, why when you send 'automated" emails to my friends from my address book, you make it appear like I myself is sending that mail?, why cant you use your company's name and mention that it was me who is recommending it?? is that to escape from the "CANSPAM" act?

Anonymous said...

Let's clarify. GoodTree is an LLC company started by OogaLabs: OogaLabs is a $100million "company" that builds websites and then later tries to sell them to larger companies.

GoodTree is a nice idea; however, if charity was the #1 reason for GoodTree, OogaLabs would donate 100% to charity instead of 50%. Why would a $100M company need to keep 50% of GoodTree's revenue? So they can sell it later for a HUGE profit if it works out. This is the part that they aren't so blatent and up-front about on GoodTree's "about" page.

In addition, you'll notice the actual search results are inferior to those of, for example, Google. Why would I use GoodTree when I can get better results from Google? Oh yeah, so a $100M company can contribute 50% to charity. Whoop-di-do.

Ooga- here's a suggestion... if you are really feeling charitable, convert GoodTree into a non-profit and up your donation schedule to 100%.

Searchers beware.

Eddie Nguyen said...

Hi Anonymous (or Susan). I responded to this comment which you also posted at:

Here's the comment:
Susan, Thank you for focusing on this great question of how much is the right amount to send to charity, and I want to address that. Let me first correct something. GoodTree is indeed wholly owned by Ooga Labs as you can see in the audited financial review that we publish on the website here: More financial information is available at But Ooga Labs is not a $100 million company. What it says on our barebones engineer-recruiting website, is that we sold companies for $100 million in the past. The fact is that like most companies in Silicon Valley, venture capitalists owned a lot of it. Ooga is actually a 15 person company with almost no income, being funded out of pocket, and we don’t plan to take venture capital this time. Our goal is to develop several online businesses we hope will improve the world in the areas of charity, medicine, family, local communities, and education. GoodTree is one of those ideas. So far we have spent over $246,366 (another number you can find in the audit) developing it, and we’re still in beta. The goal is not to sell this company, that’s why we’re not taking venture capital investment into GoodTree or Ooga. Our goal with GoodTree is to change how money is directed to social causes we all care about and run it for a long time.

So let me get to your great suggestion about becoming a non-profit, which I interpret to mean give away 100% of the profits. First, we already tried to address your question a little our FAQ here and here . Second, we plan to write much more about this on our GoodTree blog (forthcoming) because we think it’s an important debate. Third, sadly, the fact is we don’t know if we can ever turn a profit sending 50% of gross revenue to charity. Most companies who give anything send 2% of profits (Ben & Jerry’s) or around 0.2% of gross revenues. Even in the case of Newman’s Own, where they send 100% of profits, it’s usually around 10% of gross revenues. Let’s look at our competition. If Google gave 100% of their profits, it would be approximately 34% of their gross revenue. GoodTree is committing 50%. If Yahoo gave 100% of their profits, it would be around 20% of their gross revenue. So as it would be impossible for Yahoo or Google to give 50% of gross revenue — they would go out of business — it will be hard for us, too.

But let’s assume GoodTree is able to get profitable. We are evangelists of small talented teams trying to solve the world’s major challenges with technology, while making it sustainable and rewarding by trying to turn a profit at the same time. We believe you can combine those two goals in one organization. Furthermore, we think there are many of the world’s challenges which may end up being better accomplished with this approach, and we think GoodTree is one of them. Why? It seems much more likely to us that a for- profit entity like GoodTree can hire and motivate a more talented team, build a better product, that stays more innovative (to keep its users from going back to search engines who give nothing or nearly nothing to social causes), and ultimately give more money to social causes, than a non-profit approach. The GoodTree product needs to be as good as MSN, or Google, or MyYahoo for GoodTree to make a difference. The way we see it, SearchKindly and GoodSearch and others are not GoodTree’s competition — together we have only 0.01% of the market. Google, Yahoo, MSN, Comcast have 95% of the market and they don’t give any of their revenues to charity. That’s our competition. That’s who we have to take users from. It’s not about GoodTree vs GoodSearch. It’s about GoodTree and GoodSearch and SearchKindly vs MSN, Yahoo and Google.

If GoodTree has a product that is inferior to MSN, then GoodTree will never even get 1% of the market. GoodTree has to have a product that is comparable to the big guys, and I don’t mean just the search results. We’re not a match for the big guys yet by any stretch, but to have a shot, we need the speed and talent to get us there. This is the kind of thing I’m taking about: It’s our customizable home search page. Right now, about 50 million people worldwide use a customized home search page like this (most on MyYahoo, some on Google/ig). In the next 4 years, we think 250 million people will have a home page like this (there are over 1 billion people on the Internet now). If GoodTree doesn’t have a great customizable home search page, with open API’s, 1000’s of widgets, integration with the social networks, etc. we will always be small and users will get hooked to Yahoo and MSN where none of the money goes to social causes. It hasn’t been easy for us to develop this technology, but it’s getting better every week, and may allow us to compete effectively. We couldn’t have done it without very talented people, who Yahoo would pay handsomely to go work in Mountain View down the highway.

Anonymous said...

I don't think that a goodwill website should need other's password to get their private address book. That's personal data, and privacy is violated here. Beyond the slogan of charity contribution, people contributes all personal data he/she stored to the search engine, which can be goods for reselling by the GoodTree? In other words, a search engine which gathers lots of user may have better bargaining advantage in advertising market.

Anonymous said...

If it's legitimate why the need for duplicity?

Anonymous said...

Wow, gang, this is amazing.

Here a great group of folks is trying to make a difference and people are giving them a hard time.

Its pretty standard these days to give people the *option* to import their contacts from their email and social networking accounts as a convenience. And one way is for people to input their name and passwords. This is again, pretty commonplace and standard. Just look around...

There's lots of scams out there, but this isn't one of them... :)

I do not work for Goodtree btw.

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