Tech by VICE

Homejoy Co-Founder Allegedly Reused Customer Data Without Permission

Just because a startup shuts down doesn’t mean your data is deleted.

by Nicholas Deleon
Oct 29 2015, 2:17pm

Image: Dave Crosby/Flickr

An unlaunched startup created out of the ashes of failed on-demand home cleaning service Homejoy is now under fire over how it obtained customer data.

Fly Maids, created by Homejoy co-founder Aaron Cheung, allegedly obtained the information of former HomeJoy customers without these customers' knowledge or consent. The issue first came to light on Wednesday in a post on Medium.

"Remember the home-cleaning service Homejoy that shutdown in July this year?" wrote John Salzarulo on Medium. "They sent me this email today telling me about their 'Partner' company Fly Maids."

The email in question, sent from Homejoy co-founder Aaron Cheung, advertised Fly Maids, a Homejoy-like on-demand home cleaning service that was also founded by Cheung. While Salzarulo never signed up for Fly Maids, inputting his email address into the website's "My Account" section turned up his name, address, and credit card information.

The Fly Maids website is currently offline.

A person claiming to be Cheung attempted to downplay the issue on Hacker News, a tech industry message board, saying that he purchased Homejoy's customer information with the intention of "[improving] and then [relaunching] Homejoy's cleaning service," using Fly Maids to test a new kind of business model. This person then admitted that he "made some mistakes" in how he approached former Homejoy customers, linking to a website where these customers could input their email address to have their data permanently removed.

Motherboard has attempted to contact Cheung, and will update this story accordingly.