November 25, 2007

The Facebook Fad

The Facebook Fad I’m sure someone will shoot me for saying this, but I don’t get Facebook.  I mean, I get it, but I don’t see what all the fuss is about.  I made similar comments before about Gmail (here, here), and people told me I was an idiot at the time.  Three years later, Gmail is certainly a popular webmail service, but it’s hardly changed the world. In fact, it’s a distant fourth behind Yahoo, Microsoft, and AOL.  So I don’t feel so bad about not oohing and ahhing and slobbering all over the place about Facebook. Facebook reminds me of AOL back in the day.  AOL was the most simple, elegant, general purpose entree for people who wanted to get online and weren’t sure how in the early days of online services, before the Internet came of age.  It was good at packaging up its content and putting everything “in a box.”  It was clean.  It was fun.  People bragged about being an AOL member and talked about their screen name like it was on their birth certificate or something.  And the company capitalized on all the goodwill by becoming a PR machine to perpetuate its membership growth. […]


March 16, 2007

Staying Power

Staying Power I interview a lot of people.  We are hiring a ton at Return Path, and I am still able to interview all finalists for jobs, and frequently I interview multiple candidates if it’s a senior role.  I probably interviewed 60 people last year and will do at least that many this year.  I used to be surprised when a resume had an average job tenure of 2 years on it — now, the job market is so fluid that I am surprised when I see a resume that only has one or two employers listed. But even the […]


May 8, 2006

So, Where’d They Go?

So, Where’d They Go? As we’ve reported a couple times in the past, one of our interesting nuggets at Return Path is a wealth of “ISP switching data” that comes from our very large, active, self-reported Email Change of Address, or ECOA, service (consumer sign-up; client info). I noted the article floating around last week that AOL lost about 1 million subscribers last quarter, the lion’s share in the U.S., of course. So, where’d they all go? Well, according to our ECOA data, which may of course be somewhat skewed by our data sources (but has data from well over […]


February 6, 2006

Victory for Email: AOL Enhanced Whitelist to Stay

Victory for Email:  AOL Enhanced Whitelist to Stay It’s official.  AOL will keep its organic Enhanced Whitelist, clarifying that is not planning on replacing it with Goodmail’s email stamp program.  Goodmail will now be ONE way, not the only way, to reach AOL inboxes.  Charles Stiles, the postmaster for AOL, confirmed this earlier today on the phone with me, and I announced the news on CNBC’s Power Lunch (view the clip here). This is a huge win for all companies who strive to do email the right way, earning the solid reputations that drive deliverability and response rates.  Paying for […]


February 3, 2006

Why Email Stamps Are a Bad Idea

Why Email Stamps Are a Bad Idea (also posted on the Return Path blog) Rich Gingras, CEO of Goodmail is an incredibly smart and stand-up professional.  I’ve always liked him personally and had a tremendous amount of respect for him.  However, the introduction of the email stamp model by Goodmail is a radical departure from the current email ecosystem, and while I’m all for change and believe the spam problem is still real, I don’t think stamps are the answer.  Rich has laid out some of his arguments here in the DMNews blog, so I’ll respond to those arguments as […]


February 3, 2006

AOL and Goodmail: Two steps back for email, Part II

AOL and Goodmail: Two steps back for email, Part II (also posted on the Return Path blog) There’s been a lot of noise this week since the news broke about AOL and Goodmail, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to change the direction of the dialog a little bit. First, there are two main issues here, and I think it’s healthy to separate them and address them separately. One issue is the merits of an email stamp system like the one Goodmail is proposing, relative to other methods of improving and ensuring email deliverability.  The second issue — and […]


February 1, 2006

AOL and Goodmail: Two steps back for email

AOL and Goodmail: Two steps back for email (posted on the Return Path blog a couple days ago here) Remember the old email hoax about Hillary Clinton pushing for email taxation? When we first heard AOL’s plans for Goodmail today, we thought maybe the hoax had re-surfaced and a few industry reporters got hooked by it. But alas, this tax plan seems to be true. AOL has long held the leading standard in email whitelisting. Every email sender who cares about delivery has tried to keep their email reputation high so that they could earn placement on AOL’s coveted Enhanced […]


November 15, 2005

Counter Cliche: Head Lemming

Counter Cliche:  Head Lemming Fred’s VC Cliche of the Week last week was that leadership is figuring out where everyone is going and then getting in front of them and saying “follow me.” While it’s certainly true that juming out in front of a well-organized, rapidly moving parade and becoming the grand marshal (or maybe the baton twirly person) is one path to successful leadership, CEOs do have to be careful about selecting the right parade to jump in front of for two reasons. First, just because lots of people are going in a specific direction doesn’t mean it’s right.  […]


May 31, 2005

Just Say No

Just Say No A recent study by AOL (published here in CNET) says that on average, people in America check email five times per day and can’t go without it for more than three days at a time.  And six out of ten respondents said they check email on vacation. While I’m as guilty as anyone of perpetuating these statistics, I am a big fan of taking regular time off from email.  Whether it’s a day each week, or a whole weekend here or there, or at least one week vacation per year, it’s important to Just Say No every […]


April 21, 2005

Gmail, I Don’t Get It, Part III

Gmail, I Don’t Get It, Part III This is the third in a somewhat drawn-out series of postings on Gmail featuring some interesting data from Return Path’s Email Change of Address service, which captures self-reported address change data from nearly 1 million consumers every month. The first posting, back when Gmail launched nearly a year ago, was that I didn’t understand the fuss.  This is even more true now that Yahoo is in a “free storage” war with Google. The second, in November, had some change of address stats reporting that the numbers of people joining Gmail was tiny relative […]


December 23, 2004

Wait – A Closed Environment Isn’t the Be All End All?

Wait – A Closed Environment Isn’t the Be All End All? Today’s announcement that AOL will be improving its web-based email access for members and opening a free version of the service for non-members in 2005 is a quiet cry of “uncle.”  What’s amazing isn’t the announcement so much as how long it took for AOL to get there. What will this do to the email landscape?  Not much, in my view.  It’s too little, too late, to mean much of anything.