Homejoy, the dead cleaning startup that shuttered its doors in August, has apparently awoken from the grave to email its customers about a new partner: Fly Maids.
But, it turns out Fly Maids just isn’t a new partner to fill in the gaps.
It’s apparently a new startup that Homejoy co-founder Aaron Cheung is launching, according to an apparent comment from Cheung on Hacker News.
Cheung confirmed that he was behind the startup after a Homejoy user found his credit card and profile information on the Fly Maid site – without even signing up.
We’ve reached out to Cheung for additional comment and will update when we hear back.
The weird tale begins with an email that John Salzarulo received Tuesday afternoon. A Los Angeles based user, Salzarulo received an email from Cheung that “$20 cleaning is back!” thanks to its local partner.
“I wanted to reach out personally today to invite you to join a private house cleaning trial with our Los Angeles partner, Fly Maids,” Cheung wrote, not disclosing his connection to the company.
When Salzarulo clicked the email link, the Fly Maids’ site logged him into his Homejoy account, which still had his credit card number and notes about where to find the trash can.
In a detailed Medium post, Salzarulo detailed how the site looked identical to Homejoy’s competitor, Handy.
After the story was posted on Hacker News, Cheung responded and apologized for using the data he claims to have acquired from Homejoy.
“I’m one of the founders of Homejoy. I’m still very passionate about the home service space. After leaving Homejoy, I started FlyMaids, where we’re exploring a few different angles on the space.
We recently acquired the customer and service provider data from Homejoy.
We’re a small team that has been focused on moving quickly while bootstraping. We tried to quickly test different approaches, but we realize now that we did so in an unclear manner. We recognize the need to use the data we acquired responsibily. As a result, we’re taking the site down, and we’re going to do a better job with our testing moving forward.”
Another website, Cleanr.Ca, has the same European registration number and is listed as being headquartered at Homejoy’s old headquarters.
A profile for an “Aaron Cheung” on LiquidSpace, a network for people looking for offices, shows that Cheung was in search of a space for Homeaglow, a 1-4 person startup in San Francisco.
Fly Maids has since been taken down, but the other sites are still up. In another Hacker News comment, Cheung reportedly said that the service has deleted all credit card information as of October 28. Cheung also apologized for not being upfront about his connection to Fly Maids.
“When we contacted customers, we didn’t tell them we were Homejoy relaunching because we wanted to gauge reception to our new model without the influence of Homejoy’s brand,” Cheung allegedly wrote. “As a result, we scared many customers, who expected the worst had happened to their data. We should have told customers upfront who we were, what we were testing, and used original content.”
Business Insider asked Salzarulo to check whether his information was available on either. Cleanr didn’t have an account for him, but a password reset option on Homeaglow sent him an email, even though he had never signed up for it.