Exclusive: The Man Who Nearly Partnered with Alleged Russian Spy Anna Chapman
Texas entrepreneur came close to partnering with alleged Russian spy on NYCRentals.com start up
To this single man from Houston, Texas, Anna Chapman was very attractive and well put together. Although she was not wearing provocative clothing when they first met at a trendy restaurant across from the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the red-headed Chapman’s conservative Chanel suit and freshly styled hair was reminiscent of the classic Jackie O look. She looked good, but didn’t oversell her beauty.
During the initial meeting in early 2010, Chapman exuded a confidence the Texas Internet entrepreneur (who wishes to remain anonymous) wasn’t accustomed to seeing in women - “she was like a female with balls,” he shared, illustrating her directness and confident attitude. There wasn’t any indication that Chapman could be anything other than how she had been described, a successful entrepreneur who built a multi-million dollar business in Russia selling real estate online.
These two individuals were introduced out of the blue by the Russian wife of a friend of the Texan, who was acquainted with Chapman and knew she was looking for a New York real estate domain name to go with her business. NYCRentals.com hadn’t yet been fully developed, and it would be the perfect domain name on which Chapman could run her business in the US.
The Texan was intrigued by her beauty, and he was interested in working with someone who had been described as being very successful. He also believed she brought quite a bit to the table, as she had promised to help fund the company with somewhere between $150,000 – $200,000. The cursory details of the partnership sounded good to the Texan, whose other online business ventures and the “complicated Manhattan rental market” precluded him from building the business he first envisioned when he acquired NYCRentals.com for $5,250 in July of 2007.
The would-be partners subsequently met in person three or four more times over the next nine months or so to discuss business. Each meeting was held at a different upscale restaurant in New York City, and on two occasions, Chapman showed up with other men who were not a part of the deal.
For several months, the two would-be business partners frequently chatted on the phone and via text message, exchanging ideas and discussing their business deal. Chapman created a website for NYCRentals.com, and the Texas entrepreneur permitted the site’s launch, despite not having any working agreement. Concurrently, as reported by TechCrunch, Chapman was meeting with financiers and venture capitalists to discuss this business venture.
As the deal process continued to be drawn out, the Texan grew leery of Chapman and the promise of making money with her. There was something about her that he didn’t trust. After reading proposed contracts that contained strange contingencies and legalese, all in the hopes of earning somewhere around 3% gross, the Texan decided that it might be in his company’s best interest to sell the domain name instead of creating this partnership.
The Texan proposed an outright sale of the domain name to Chapman, and he set a price of $50,000 for it. Chapman pleaded with him to sell it for $20,000, and after subsequent discussion, they agreed to a deal at $25,350. The transaction was finalized through domain registrar Moniker, and it was reported in June’s Domain Sales Report in DNJournal, coming in at #11 of the week.
Shortly after finalizing the domain deal, the Texan began hearing about Chapman on the news and her alleged spying for Russia, and he realized just how lucky he was. Not only did he make a profit on the sale of NYCRentals.com in the amount of $20,000, he avoided a partnership that could have ended badly and possibly led to the seizure of his domain name.
Although he hasn’t been contacted by government officials, he is still pretty shocked about the entire turn of events. “I still do not believe it,” he said, “but I have faith in the country to know what they’re doing.”
Photo: Facebook via NY Daily News