E-mail service Hey is selling two-letter email addresses for $999 a year

Hey, the newly announced email service, has a unique item on its slate of products: a rare, exclusive two- or even three-letter email address, like ok@hey.com or fun@hey.com for example (or probably just your initials). But it’s going to cost you.

As observed on Twitter and confirmed simply by David Heinemeier Hansson, the co-founder of Hey parent company Basecamp, Hey considers these shortened contact information “premium” and worth the extra cash. For a two-letter address, it will be $999 a year. For a three-letter one, the price drops to $375 a year. Everybody else who signs up for Hey, typically in an invite-only phase until a wider launch next month, can simply pick a four-letter or longer email address and pay out the standard $99 a year.

Heinemeier Hansson jokes that the premium address offering is just how it will help pay off the huge amount of cash it forked over to acquire the Hi.com domain last year, prior to start. While that may not be entirely correct, Hansson did link to a detailed blog post about the process of acquiring that site from online video marketing specialist Dane Golden. It did appear to involve a substantial transaction that other Basecamp co-founder and CEO Jerrika Fried described as “a nervous amount of money,” considering Fantastic wasn’t domain squatting and is at fact using the website and brand name for his personal business.

If you wanted to have some fun — in the event you consider some light mathematics and business projections fun — you could try to calculate just how much cash Basecamp might be able to make off these types of premium addresses.

There are usually hundreds of potential combinations of two-letter addresses, and that’s if you leave out numbers. For three letters, it leaps into the tens of thousands. That could be some severe revenue. Let’s assume 100 individuals buy two-letter addresses, 5,000 people buy three-letter ones, then another 25,000 people pay out the standard $99 a year. That happens to a nearly $4.5 mil annual business. That’s not really bad, even if Hey starts and continues to be a niche product. (Fried told The Verge he would be happy in case Hey attracts 100,000 having to pay customers.)

We may assume at least some of the more popular types will indeed get taken, since Hey has been in the works for a long time now and was, even just before yesterday’s announcement, among the more talked-about new email providers in many years. Heinemeier Hansson said on Tweets that they’ve already seen a few purchases of two-letter ones.

If anything, it’s a great marketing tool and adds some “in on the ground floor” exclusivity to the service. Hey is really a shiny new email provider that’s trying to innovate in a space the majority of consumers actively dread and that hasn’t seen a novel change within approach in years, outside the periodic new Gmail feature or whichever ProtonMail cooks up. Hearing regarding its exclusive addresses could at least bring in some new customers who may have otherwise never known Hey been around, or attract some email strength users who like the velvet string approach and the allure of a desired email address.

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