April 10, 2014

Understanding the Drivers of Success

Understanding the Drivers of Success Although generally business is great at Return Path  and by almost any standard in the world has been consistently strong over the years, as everyone internally knows, the second part of 2012 and most of 2013 were not our finest years/quarters.  We had a number of challenges scaling our business, many of which have since been addressed and improved significantly. When I step back and reflect on “what went wrong” in the quarters where we came up short of our own expectations, I can come up with lots of specific answers around finer points of execution, and even a few abstracted ones around our industry, solutions, team, and processes.  But one interesting answer I came up with recently was that the reason we faltered a bit was that we didn’t clearly understand the drivers of success in our business in the 1-2 years prior to things getting tough.  And when I reflect back on our entire 14+ year history, I think that pattern has repeated itself a few times, so I’m going to conclude there’s something to it. What does that mean?  Well, a rising tide — success in your company — papers over a […]


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 […]


June 29, 2006

Gmail as Competition – Another View?

Gmail as Competition – Another View? This week, while many from the industry have been in Brussels at the outstanding yet oddly-named MAAWG conference for ISPs and filtering companies, internet marketing pundit Ken Magill had a scary, scary headline related to Google’s insertion of ads in email — Is Gmail Feeding Your Customers to the Competition? The assertion is that Gmail’s contextual ad program, combined with image blocking in commercial emails, could easily lead to a situation where one of your subscribers doesn’t see your own content but then sees an ad for a competitor in the sidebar. Scary, I […]


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 […]


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 […]


November 9, 2004

Gmail – I Don’t Get It, Part II

Gmail – I Don’t Get It, Part II Back in June, I blogged about Google’s new Gmail service, how I didn’t understand the fuss, and how its features would ultimately be replicated and true usership stalled at a couple million.  I stand by those assertions (just look at what Yahoo, Hotmail, and Lookout have done to the landscape since then), but my company Return Path published some data today that’s interesting on this topic. We run the largest Email Forwarding and Email Change of Address service around, so our data on email switching is pretty solid — we’ve had about […]


June 11, 2004

Gmail – I Don’t Get It

I honestly don’t get all the buzz about Gmail, Google’s new email service. I took a look at it today to see what the the big deal was. It’s got a few features which are marginally better than other webmail services, but not too many and not massively better. The free storage is not a big issue for most users, although it may cause a few power users to switch over. The most interesting feature in my mind is the ability to use Google Search on your own email file, which is very useful. All in all, it’s a good […]