Silicon Valley entrepreneur fights spam, deadly cancer

Steven Kirsch has cancer. Waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia, to be exact. It's rare and deadly. About 1,500 Americans are diagnosed with it each year and its considered incurable. But Kirsch, according to his New York Times profile, is an engineer known for solving tricky problems. In 1982 he designed improved the computer mouse. He founded Infoseek. Kirsch has decided to take on cancer as just another problem to solve. It's just not quite at the top of his priority list. In fact its third, after "Who would make the best president?" and his top priority: "Eliminating spam." And he's got four years and $230 million in personal wealth to do it.

To eliminate spam, Kirsch founded Abaca earlier this year. Now Abaca claims it can filter 99 percent of all spam by profiling spam email recipients rather than spam emails. If that rate of success is accurate, Abaca is more effective than six leading spam blockers.

Kirsch's second priority is helping a green-friendly candidate get elected. A former Republican, Kirsch worries humans might be extinct in 90 years if something isn't done. A generous worry, considering his own projected lifespan.

As for cancer, Kirsch told the Times he's taking it on like he would any engineering challenge. "This is harder on my wife than it is on me," he said "I just look at it as a problem. Here's a problem and you have four years to solve it or you don't get to solve any more problems."