Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words can never hurt you? Michael Fertik's customers would beg to differ. From top-ranking CEOs to parents wanting to protect their children, more than 4,000 clients from roughly 28 countries had sought out ReputationDefender's help by the end of 2007. It was just over a year earlier that Fertik, who has a background in law and technology, started the Menlo Park, California, business to remove damaging content from the internet for his clients. As a result, he's given some of them their lives back. Says Fertik, 29, "Even some of the most innocent among us can find that the internet becomes a scarlet letter or an albatross."Fertik and his team of 50 scour the internet, contact site owners to remove harmful content and employ tactics to push negative links further down in search results. While some view Fertik as a hero, others criticize his efforts to "censor" the internet. But with projected 2008 sales of $5.5 million, it's clear that many think his service is worth paying for.
For reprints and licensing questions, click here.