Anna Chapman, the Russian woman accused by the FBI of being part of a spy ring, had her own startup that was creating a web site aimed at helping people find apartments.
Techcrunch reported today that the 28-year-old Chapman had created the company PropertyFinder and was in the midst of creating the rental web site NYCrentals.com. It has both a copy of Chapman’s business plan and a video in which Chapman describes the internet business.
Chapman said she was a former investment banker who moved from London to become an entrepreneur in New York. She didn’t mention her occupation as a spy. She mingled among entrepreneurs in New York, and she shot this video to describe the business. Chapman’s ex-husband, Alex Chapman, said that his wife left him after four years to start her business in New York. He said that she told him her father was in the KGB. By the end of the marriage, Alex said that Anna had become secretive and was going to meet with “Russian friends” which he now believes were Russian government agents. Alex Chapman said that Anna Chapman also told him she was employing 50 people at her company.
Along the way, Anna Chapman allegedly became a femme fatale spy, posting sexy images of herself on Facebook and meeting secretly with Russian government officials. She said she had a hard time relocating to New York and got the idea to create a site to help people find apartments more easily. The company would set itself apart by crawling the web to find a bunch of sources for rental listings and then aggregate them together on one web site.
It isn’t clear if the business is just a front for Anna Chapman. The web site is up, but it only finds apartments in certain sections of New York. The business plan says that PropertyFinder is an affiliate of a holding company in Russia that Anna Chapman also owns.
It’s very odd for a spy to seek the limelight through the publicity video, unless it was an attempt to hide in plain sight. Can you imagine if she actually managed to raise money? Here’s her video where she talks about PropertyFinder and her web site. The video is courtesy of Techcrunch/And Now Media.
[pictures: Techcrunch, Anna Chapman]