April 1, 2009
Senders No More
February marked the official end of Return Path being in the email sending business, even a little bit. Of course we still have corporate email servers, and we still have basic retention email marketing programs for our customers and prospects (with explicit permission of course!), but after a 9 1/2 year run, we no longer have direct consumer email-based relationships.
As we announced last fall, we recently divested all of our businesses other than our deliverability and whitelisting business — Postmaster Direct (list rental), Authentic Response/MyView.com (surveys), and ECOA (change of address). Those were great businesses, but they increasingly diverged over the years from each other and from our core deliverability business, so it made sense for them to belong to different companies in the end.
Besides diverging from each other, being a bulk sender of email had both advantages and disadvantages for us as a company. On the one hand, it was good for us to see firsthand what some of the issues are that impact our clients. We were, in fact, our own clients, one business unit to another. But on the other hand, being a bulk sender carried a real business risk of compromising our position as a trusted intermediary between senders and receivers. It was always a fine line to walk, and while we never got in trouble for it, we were always concerned — to the point where for a long time we didn’t allow our other business units to apply for our whitelist, Sender Score Certified, even at “arm’s length.” At least we weren’t an ESP!