About Port87

A SciActive Product

SciActive Inc was started in June, 2021 by Hunter Perrin with the goal of providing a new kind of email through Port87. Before this, SciActive was the name Hunter used to provide high quality open source software, like Nymph.js, Svelte Material UI, and PNotify. Port87 is built on the technology that Hunter has developed under the SciActive name for more than a decade.

The Story of Port87

The Problem

The Port87 delivery system was born out of necessity. While I was working as an engineer at LinkedIn, I would get about 10 to 15 spam messages in my Gmail inbox every day. Every single time, my watch would buzz, I'd look down at it, and I'd sigh that spam just cost me yet another interruption.

A portion of these messages weren't "spam" in the classic sense, which is probably why Gmail's spam filter had so much trouble with them. As a software engineer who'd worked at Facebook, Google, and LinkedIn, my email address is well known to recruiters and head hunters. So about 60% of the spam messages that reached my inbox were sent by actual people, they just weren't something I wanted to see in my inbox, and they weren't from just one sender I could easily block.

The Solution

Eventually I decided that I had to tackle this problem. I started by moving my account emails into a separate email through ProtonMail, where I could use "Sieve scripts" (a type of programming language run on incoming mail) to organize them all into their own categories. I had to use ProtonMail because Gmail doesn't support this technology. That solved the issue of spam mixed in with all my account mail, but I was still getting spam.

Next, I developed a sort of "screening" system for my Gmail account through complicated filters and autoreplies. Since I wasn't getting account email there anymore, it was fine to block all automated email.

Eureka! After a hesitant first couple days of a quiet inbox, I got an email from my mom, in my inbox! Then an email from my friend Alex! I checked the Recruiters label, and sure enough, tons of email from recruiters. My system worked! The only email getting through to my Gmail was from real people!

The Company

I told one of my coworkers about it, and he was impressed. He asked, "How do I set this up for myself." My cheeky response was, "Well, do you have about eight hours to spare?" For this system, you needed two addresses, one on your own domain, two email accounts, and every time you signed up somewhere new, you had to edit a big complicated Sieve script.

Then it dawned on me that this is a real solution to a real problem that everyone has, and I could make it simple and automatic if I just wrote my own email service. I asked him if he would sign up for an email service that worked this way, and he said, "Absolutely."

After some serious thought, I worked up the courage to ask my girlfriend if she would support me quitting my job and spending years pursuing my dream of starting my own company. She said yes! (She is now my wife!) Quitting my job at LinkedIn was one of the hardest decisions I've ever made. It is an amazing company to work for, but I felt like I had something that could really improve people's lives.

In June of 2021, I formed SciActive Inc, and in August, I left LinkedIn and started working on Port87. The clunky system of Sieve scripts and filters that I now call the prototype paved the way for a brand new kind of email.

— Hunter Perrin