Front won’t kill email at work; it will save it for all of us.

Mamoon Hamid
May 26, 2016 · 3 min read
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At Social Capital, our mission is to advance humanity by solving the world’s hardest problems. With more than 50% of our waking hours spent working, it becomes incumbent on us to make how we work more productive and gratifying. We love software companies that allow us to communicate and collaborate more effectively in business settings. That’s why we have been early investors in companies like Box, Yammer, Slack, Intercom and others whose products have become core parts of everyday workflows. We believe that Front has the potential to become one of the core apps that knowledge workers live in, and for that reason, I’m excited to share that Social Capital is leading Front’s Series A.

Front is rebuilding the anchor of business communication: email. While many have called for the death of email, it remains the primary mode for workplace communications:

  • 100B business emails are sent and received every year, growing 10% a year. That’s 25 emails per knowledge worker a day.
  • There are substitutes for business communications (Slack, IM, etc), but business email volumes are still increasing since more business is done online now than ever before, producing more email; this is especially true for external-facing roles (sales, support, recruiting, etc.).
  • On the other hand, consumer email traffic is decreasing due to the plethora of simple substitutes like iMessage, Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, WhatsApp, etc. This is the right thing and a good thing.

As early investors in Slack and Intercom, we see Front as a crucial part of the stack that will absorb and improve communication that has traditionally happened over email. As we look at the changing ways people are working, we believe that:

  • A vast majority of internal email communications will move onto Slack.
  • Many types of customer communications will get sucked into Intercom.
  • Most types of external email communications will move into Front.

So how is Front re-imagining email? While we’ve seen redesigns and facelifts of email clients, they fundamentally haven’t adapted to modern workflows, keeping email the app we all love to hate. Email needs to be:

  • Triage-able, assignable, and trackable.
  • Collaborative and shareable with colleagues who work together on the same tasks.
  • Integrated with all kinds of software and data products.

Front’s shared inbox app for external email communications is a wedge for a broader takeover of traditional business email software. What has traditionally been un-monetizable software (email clients) is being used by and paid for by 1000+ companies including LVMH, MailChimp and Hubspot because it bolsters email with workflow and productivity software.

What really got our heads turning is that 50% of all monthly active users (MAUs) were also daily active users (DAUs), an engagement level we had heretofore only seen when we invested in the Series A of Slack. And Front today has roughly the same number of users as Slack did at that time. Furthermore, DAUs spend half their working days inside the app, with an average of 3.6 hours.

As is common for products that are thoughtfully designed, loved by their users and used incessantly, there is a special group of people behind them — in this case, Mathilde, Laurent and their team of 16, many of whom who packed their bags and left their native France to build a company that will last a lifetime (and save email for all of us).

We’re excited to help them on this rescue mission.

Social Capital

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