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Front grabs $10 million to bring email to the next level

TechCrunch TechCrunch 26/05/2016 Romain Dillet

It’s safe to say that email is broken. But a startup called Front wants to reinvent email, or at least make it suck less. Front started as a collaborative email service for companies so that multiple people can interact and deal with incoming emails on your on your support@, jobs@ or contact@ email addresses. And the company is raising a $10 million Series A round led by Social Capital.

Business angels, such as Stewart Butterfield (Slack), Eoghan McCabe (Intercom), Ilya Fushman and Pierre Valade are also participating. Mamoon Hamid from Social Capital has worked with Yammer, Slack, Box and Intercom. That’s why Front decided to go with this fund.

There are more than 1,000 companies using Front today, such as LVMH, Mailchimp or Hubspot. And the company recently released a major update with many new features, making it much easier to collaborate in Front. More importantly, the company wants to move beyond shared inboxes. Now, busy CEOs can delegate emails to coworkers for instance. Or you could give access to your inbox for a week if you go on vacation.

Shared inboxes were just a first step for Front. It was a great way to make people more familiar with Front. But Front wants to go further than that. In the best case scenario, everybody who deals with a lot of emails will want to use Front.

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Email has been stuck in the past for years. Arguably, the last meaningful innovation when it comes to email has been Gmail. With its threading, tagging, starring and archiving metaphors, it has changed the way many people deal with emails today.

But many other things haven’t changed. You still forward an email chain to someone and then you have to deal with multiple conversations with different people in the same thread. Email chains can be painful if you need to add someone. And email protocols haven’t changed.

And yet, everybody I know is still using emails. Email isn’t going anywhere, email isn’t dying. But somebody has to fix it.

Front has turned email into a multiplayer experience, adding a social layer with notifications, mentions and today’s standards when it comes to communication (emojis, typing indicator, etc.) to your inboxes. Front also integrates with many third-party services.

Now, reinventing email is no small feat. I don’t know if Front will be able to do it. It’s clear that the company is too small to force drastic changes when it comes to email at large. But it is well-positioned to move the needle forward.

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