Earlier this morning we reported on the shut-down announcement of email data enhancement program Etacts and said that it was most likely the result of an acquisition. Now someone has told TechCrunch that the little startup has been acquired by enterprise CRM giant Salesforce.
Still as yet unreported, though? It appears that Palo Alto based Etacts isn't the only YCombinator-incubated email add-on startup that Salesforce has acquired today. San Francisco's EmailOracle, a smaller startup that lets users track when individual recipients have opened emails you send to them, also announced today that it's closing down. That site used the exact same language in its announcement that Etacts did, too. In other words, welcome to Salesforce, teams Etacts and EmailOracle. Update: TechCrunch reporter Jason Kincaid responds in comments with a theory that these may in fact be the same company. While we don't know whether that's true or not, it doesn't seem unlikely given the way YCombinator has been known to tell founders that they like their people, but that they need a different product. We'll update this post when we find out for sure. Further update: Turns out the two companies sit on the same server.
When EmailOracle launched, many people questioned whether it would work: the service relies on an image pixel being displayed in an opened email and thus reporting back to the EmailOracle server that the mail had been clicked. What about the default mode of blocking images in emails, people asked? What about AdBlock plug-ins, which also blocked this service? Some argued that while email open rates were roughly helpful when analyzed over a large quantity of emails, it was too risky to rely on such a system for tracking a single email.
Perhaps that's why Etacts raised money from a list of rock-star developers and EmailOracle only listed YCombinator as its backing. They say that investors deliver more value in the form of advice and introductions to other powerful people than they do from simple cash - it looks like the EmailOracle team probably benefitted greatly from its YCombinator connections, when Salesforce came knocking for email CRM-type startups. (It's widely discussed that Salesforce may acquire social stream reader Seesmic as well, so stay tuned for that. Seesmic is not associated with YCombinator.)
What does this mean for users? It may be good news for Salesforce customers but not everyone is excited. "The hunt for a replacement tool is on, then," said blogger and EmailOracle fan Paul Miller. "I'm not implementing all of Salesforce just to know when it's time to nudge someone I sent an email to."