I’m not one to live in the past (well, except maybe for A-Team re-runs), but for many years now, I’ve felt like I’ve had unfinished business. I started the service ONElist in 1998. ONElist made it easy for people to create, manage, run and find email groups. As it grew over the next two and a half years, we expanded, changed our name to eGroups, and, in the summer of 2000, were acquired by Yahoo. The service was renamed Yahoo Groups, and I left the company to pursue other startups.
But really this story starts even further back, in the Winter of 1989, when in college I was introduced to mailing lists. I was instantly hooked. It was obvious that a mailing list was a great way to communicate with a group of people about a common interest. I started subscribing to lists dedicated to my favorite bands (’80’s Hair Metal, anyone?). I joined a list for a local running club. And, at every company I’ve worked at since graduating, there have been invaluable internal company mailing lists.
But that doesn’t mean that mailing lists can’t improve. And this is where we get back to the unfinished business. Because email groups (the modern version of mailing lists) have stagnated over the past decade. Yahoo Groups and Google Groups both exude the dank air of benign neglect. Google Groups hasn’t been updated in years, and some of Yahoo’s recent changes have actually made Yahoo Groups worse! And yet, millions of people put up with this uncertainty and neglect, because email groups are still one of the best ways to communicate with groups of people. And I have a plan to make them even better.
So today I’m launching Groups.io in beta, to bring email groups into the 21st Century. At launch, we have many features that those other services don’t have, including:
- Integration with other services, including: Github, Google Hangouts, Dropbox, Instagram, Facebook Pages, and the ability to import Feeds into your groups.
- Businesses and organizations can have their own private groups on their own subdomain.
- Better archive organization, using hashtags.
- Many more email delivery options.
- The ability to mute threads or hashtags.
- Fully searchable archives, including searching within attachments.
One other feature that Groups.io has that Yahoo and Google don’t, is a business model that’s not based on showing ads to you. Public groups are completely free on Groups.io. Private groups and organizations are very reasonably priced.
We’re just starting out; following the tradition of new startups everywhere, we’re in Beta. So, as we squash the inevitable bugs and work to make the system even better (based on your feedback!), all features will be free.
I’m passionate about email groups. They are one of the very best things about the Internet and, with Groups.io, I’ve set out to make them even better. As John ‘Hannibal’ Smith, leader of the A-Team, liked to say, “I love it when a plan comes together.”