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TechnologyWould You Pay $30 a Month to Check Your Email?

19:10  30 june  2019
19:10  30 june  2019 Source:   nytimes.com

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Last month , Superhuman raised a million investment round, led by Mr. Andreessen’s firm, Andreessen Horowitz. That valued the company at roughly 0 million — a steep valuation for an app with fewer than 15,000 customers, but one apparently justified by the company’s trajectory and its

Most company E - Mail solutions cost between - 30 per month per user. This is nothing new and exciting. Is this a throwback to 20 years ago & the dawn of email when few services were free (but came with dialup internet access that might include a couple of local dial-in numbers)?

Would You Pay $30 a Month to Check Your Email?© Pablo Rochat Rahul Vohra, the founder of Superhuman.

The year is 2019, and the brainy engineers of Silicon Valley are hunkered down, working on transformative, next-generation technologies like self-driving cars, digital currencies and quantum computing.

Meanwhile, the buzziest start-up in San Francisco is … an expensive email app?

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A few months ago, I started hearing about something called Superhuman. It’s an invitation-only service that costs $30 a month and promises “the fastest email experience ever made.” Marc Andreessen, the influential venture capitalist, reportedly swore by it, as did tech bigwigs like Patrick and John Collison, the founders of Stripe. The app was rumored to have a waiting list of more than 100,000 people.

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Would You Pay $30 a Month to Check Your Email?© Superhuman Superhuman is aimed at people who spend three or more hours a day on email.

“We have the who’s who of Silicon Valley at this point,” Superhuman’s founder, Rahul Vohra, told me in an interview. The waiting list is actually 180,000 people long, he said, and some people are getting desperate. He showed me a photo of a gluten-free cake sent to Superhuman’s office by a person who was hoping to score an invitation.

“We have insane levels of virality that haven’t been seen since Dropbox or Slack,” Mr. Vohra added.

Last month, Superhuman raised a $33 million investment round, led by Mr. Andreessen’s firm, Andreessen Horowitz. That valued the company at roughly $260 million — a steep valuation for an app with fewer than 15,000 customers, but one apparently justified by the company’s trajectory and its support among fans, which borders on evangelical.

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Avoid letting late payments pile up by creating a system for prompting customers to pay . Why this payment reminder works: This is the first email addressing that the invoice is overdue, so If you still haven’t received payment after a full month , it’s time to step out from behind the email curtain and

Would You Pay $30 a Month to Check Your Email?© Eddie Hernandez Rahul Vohra, the founder of Superhuman.

“Superhuman is the future of work,” said David Ulevitch, the Andreessen Horowitz partner who led the firm’s investment. “Once I started using Superhuman, I couldn’t conceive of relying on anything else.”

When I first heard about Superhuman, I was skeptical. Didn’t Google already solve email? How could any start-up get away with charging a premium for something that was already available free? I suspected that it might be a Veblen good, a term economists use for luxury products that primarily function as status symbols for the rich.

But I was curious, so I spent several weeks testing it out. And it turns out that the hype is mostly justified, at least if you’re the kind of person who can spend $30 a month to get your inbox in order.

Signing up for Superhuman is not easy. First, you fill out a long questionnaire about your email habits and work flow. Then, if you’re approved for access, there’s a mandatory session in which a representative gives you a videoconference tutorial. In my case, Mr. Vohra spent a full hour teaching me how to use the app’s features. Superhuman, which plugs into your existing email account, works with only Gmail and Google G Suite addresses for now, but the company plans to expand to other providers soon.

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Ask for the payment simply and be straightforward. Tell them you have included the invoice as part of the email and how you want to be paid . Make it easy for your client to get back to you by attaching the invoice as well as the original email . However, this email is clearly not as playful as the last one.

Myth 3: It will take months to receive my check . If the IRS has your direct deposit banking information, then you should receive your payment in the next few Keep in mind that the IRS will not call, text or email you . "Scammers are sending official-looking messages — including postcards with a password

Some of the app’s features — such as ones that let users undo sending, track when their emails are opened and automatically pull up a contact’s LinkedIn profile — are available in other third-party email plug-ins. But there are bells and whistles that I hadn’t seen before. Like “instant intro,” which moves the sender of an introductory email to bcc, saving you from having to manually re-enter that person’s address. Or the scheduling feature, which sees that you’re typing “next Tuesday” and automatically pulls up your calendar for that day.

These features will appeal most to power users who spend most of their day typing on a laptop or desktop. (Superhuman has a mobile app, but much of the heavy-duty functionality requires a keyboard.) Mr. Vohra said the app was targeted at people who spend three or more hours a day checking their email.

“When you’re doing three-plus hours of email every day, it’s your job,” Mr. Vohra said. “And every single other job has a tool that makes you do it faster.”

Superhuman promises to help V.I.P.s get through their inboxes twice as fast. Partly, that’s because every command has a keyboard shortcut, so a busy power broker never has to waste precious seconds reaching for the mouse. And partly it’s because the app itself is built for speed — it stores information locally in a user’s browser rather than retrieving it from Google’s servers, which cuts down on the time required to surf between emails.

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I am a notoriously bad emailer. My usual Inbox Zero strategy is letting a bunch of important emails pile up in my inbox for months, before going on a guilt-driven purge in which every message I send begins with “Sorry for the delay.”

But with Superhuman, I bushwhacked through my unread emails in less than an hour, eventually reaching a kind of dissociative flow state. Invitation to a blockchain-themed happy hour? Hit ⌘-; to insert a “snippet,” a canned reply politely declining. Newsletter from a hotel I stayed at once in 2014? Hit ⌘-U to unsubscribe. It made checking my email feel less like doing work and more like speed-running a video game in which the object is to annoy as few people as possible.

It’s strange, on one level, to think about my email at all. For years, email felt like a remnant of an earlier technological era that was fading into obsolescence. Workplace chat apps like Slack sold themselves to large corporations as “email killers,” and messaging apps replaced email as many people’s primary inboxes.

Yet email lives. In fact, it’s thriving. Nearly 300 billion emails will be sent and received this year, according to Radicati, a research firm that studies messaging trends. Even if half of those are spam, that’s an enormous amount of communication taking place on a decades-old system.

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Part of email’s enduring appeal is that it is, at least in theory, manageable. Unlike chat apps, which interrupt you throughout the day, or social media feeds, which are sorted and ranked by algorithms, email is asynchronous and user controlled. It can be compartmentalized and scheduled. It fits into your day, rather than taking it over. And despite the spam, marketing fluff and occasional reply-all nightmare that lands in my inbox, it’s still a decent place to get work done.

Mr. Vohra, who previously founded another email start-up, Rapportive, which was sold to LinkedIn in 2012, thinks that email will dominate our lives for years to come.

“It’s the only thing that’s owned by the company, uniquely identifies you, and allows you to correspond both internally and across companies,” he said.

The 800-pound gorilla of email, of course, is Gmail. The 15-year-old service has 1.5 billion users and Google’s bottomless resources. If it wanted to, it could simply copy all of Superhuman’s features and offer them free. But Mr. Vohra doesn’t think that’s very likely.

“It’s not in Google’s DNA to build premium tooling for relatively small numbers of people,” he said.

As a journalist who gets a fair bit of email, I’m one of those people, and I liked Superhuman more than I expected to. After a few weeks of testing, the worst thing I can say about it is that the idea of giving a start-up access to my emails is unnerving. Superhuman says it does not store any user emails on its servers; still, users are required to grant the app full access to their email accounts, which may dissuade some privacy hawks.

In truth, Superhuman’s biggest obstacle may be that most people aren’t power emailers. For the average person, a super-premium email experience would be worth the cost only if it automatically read and wrote messages for you, scheduled all your meetings, ordered your lunch and filed your taxes.

But if you are the kind of ultrabusy email hound who can shell out $30 a month — or, better yet, expense it — it’s worth getting behind the velvet rope and seeing what life is like for the inbox 1 percent.

Top illustration by Pablo Rochat

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