The Stalk Market

Watch What You Text: iPhone Surveillance Startup Moves to NYC

mSpy was previously located in London.
Good luck lying to your parents now. (Photo: mspy.com)

Good luck lying to your parents now. (Photo: mspy.com)

mSpy has been helping people monitor each other’s phone activity since 2011, and the London-based company is now setting up shop in New York City’s Financial District.

Founders Andrei Shimanovich and Alex Herts, of Belarus, started the company in 2011. Mr. Shimanovich was looking for a way to keep tabs on his rebellious teen sister, while Mr. Herts saw his former company almost fall apart because of a digital security breach.

The smartphone monitoring software they devised keeps track of users’ phone calls, texts, browsers, and even their WhatsApp activity. It sounds legally dubious, but the founders assured Betabeat this week that the use of mSpy is legal as long as a device’s owner knows they’re under surveillance.

There’s no one enforcing those rules, per se, but if you decide to track a spouse, for example, and they find out, they could take legal action.

So who would ever agree to such monitoring? The founders told us the service is popular amongst parents and employers. Parents can keep tabs on their kids’ location and phone activity to make sure they’re not getting into trouble, and employers can ensure their devices are being used strictly for business.

Seventy-four percent of mSpy’s users are male, a spokesperson told us, while 40 percent are parents. People aged 35 to 44 are the most active, and 53 percent are in the U.S. Users in Texas and California drive the most traffic to mSpy’s website.

After two years of being based in London, the mSpy team has just signed a lease for office space on Fulton Street.

“NYC was the natural choice for their American headquarters because of all the different lifestyles, cultures and people, as well as the increased opportunities for exposure,” the spokesperson said.

Spying on your children and underlings doesn’t come free, though. Packages start at $39.99 per month, per device. Soon, the startup will also offer bundled packages so you can buy a device with the software preloaded, making it prettttty tempting to casually not tell your boyfriend or girlfriend that their new cell phone is actually a highly sophisticated monitoring device.

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