500 Startups co-hosted an event called Inbox Love on the Google campus that brought together a number of entrepreneurs and companies who are working in the email space. The night featured several ignite talks, starting with Google's Stephanie Hannon who gave a post-mortem on Google Wave's attempts to revolutionize email and ending with Facebook developer Joel Seligstein who spoke about Monday's launch of its new messaging system. Being in company like Facebook and Google may be a little daunting for startups who too are attempting to address some of the problems surrounding email.Last night
But if you need still more reasons why launching an email startup may be an uphill battle, Bijan Marashi can list them for you. Marashi is the co-founder and former CEO of Xoopit, an email indexing service that was acquired by Yahoo last year.
Marashi gave an ignite talk last night that offered his "lessons learned" from Xoopit and Yahoo, cautioning loudly (really) against startups thinking that they can easy tackle the email space.
Marashi argued that viral distribution, integration, and monetization are all incredibly difficult. And while users often complain about the myriad of pain-points with email, at the same time they are very reluctant for massive UI changes. Instead, suggested Marashi, startups are forced to launch new products on the email platform.
The problem with that is that startups are then reliant on those major email platforms, many of whom are reluctant to grant engagement hooks or share revenue with other companies. And finally, investors aren't particularly interested in startups that merely offer features. They want to fund businesses.
But Marashi concludes that despite all these challenges, "the old school Outlook-like email UI still blows" and that "email still needs to be reinvented from the ground up not fixed."
GigaOm has a link to the slides from Marashi's talk.
Photo credits: Smithsonian Institution via Flickr