Senders No More

Posted by Matt Blumberg 

Matt Blumberg
By Matt Blumberg
CEO & Chairman

February marked the official end of Return Path being in the email sending business, even a little bit. Of course we still have corporate email servers, and we still have basic retention email marketing programs for our customers and prospects (with explicit permission of course!), but after a 9 1/2 year run, we no longer have direct consumer email-based relationships.

As we announced last fall, we recently divested all of our businesses other than our deliverability and whitelisting business — Postmaster Direct (list rental), Authentic Response/MyView.com (surveys), and ECOA (change of address). Those were great businesses, but they increasingly diverged over the years from each other and from our core deliverability business, so it made sense for them to belong to different companies in the end.

Besides diverging from each other, being a bulk sender of email had both advantages and disadvantages for us as a company. On the one hand, it was good for us to see firsthand what some of the issues are that impact our clients. We were, in fact, our own clients, one business unit to another. But on the other hand, being a bulk sender carried a real business risk of compromising our position as a trusted intermediary between senders and receivers. It was always a fine line to walk, and while we never got in trouble for it, we were always concerned — to the point where for a long time we didn’t allow our other business units to apply for our whitelist, Sender Score Certified, even at “arm’s length.” At least we weren’t an ESP!

But now that risk is gone. We are senders no more. Be sure to read our CTO’s description of what it was like to send a transactional privacy policy notification to 20mm addresses, most of which hadn’t been mailed in months or years.

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About Matt Blumberg

Matt Blumberg founded Return Path in 1999 because he believed the world needed email to work better. Matt is passionate about enhancing the online relationship between email subscribers and marketers so that both sides of the equation benefit. It is with great pride that he has watched this initial creation grow to a company of more than 400 employees with the market leading brand, innovative products, and the email industry’s most renowned experts. Before Return Path, Matt ran marketing, product management, and the internet group for MovieFone, Inc. (later acquired by AOL). Prior to that he served as an associate with private equity firm General Atlantic Partners and was a consultant with Mercer Management Consulting. He holds a B.A. from Princeton University. You can learn much more about Matt by reading his email marketing and entrepreneurship blog Only Once – one of the first CEO blogs on the Internet. Last year he wrote a book, Startup CEO: A Field Guide to Scaling Up Your Business.

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