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The next piece of the puzzle

Perhaps the toughest thing in email is how much you have to build in your v1. You have to build almost everything in Gmail, without any bugs, before doing anything new. This makes for a somewhat awkward public story: you don’t want to share too much when you’re potentially years away from realizing even the start of your vision.

Today, we are excited — and a little nervous — to reveal the most significant piece yet of our email puzzle: Groups. Groups is like Slack channels but for email. With Groups you can join a new company and see the strategy memo the CEO sent the week before, you can switch teams and immediately have full context for everything the new team has been working on, and you can increase your passive awareness of what’s going on by poking around other teams’ email. More on Groups in a moment.

We are also sharing for the first time that we have raised $5M in seed from Kleiner Perkins and Bedrock. Mamoon Hamid led from Kleiner Perkins and joined the board. Eric Stromberg led from Bedrock. I’ve known Mamoon and Eric each for 5+ years and we are so thrilled to have them and their firms as partners on this journey.

Why groups matters

Email’s future is as an asynchronous, less immediate, more thoughtful counterweight to Slack. Asynchronous communication is fundamental to doing deep creative work: it doesn’t interrupt you, it gives you space to think. However, there is work to close the gap between what we believe email can and should be, and what email is today. The first step in closing the gap is to examine all the ways email is used today and ask ourselves: how would we design this if starting over? Enter: Groups.

With Groups, we are bringing Slack channels to email. You can now easily browse and search all public email (anything sent to a Group) in your company, without leaving your email client:

Within each Group you have a shared history of past conversations, regardless of when you joined a company or team:

When you get a fundamental detail right other things tend to fall into place. Every public conversation in your company now has a shareable URL and you can join conversations that didn’t originally include you. This unlocks workflows like this:

We’ve been using Groups internally at Consider for a few months and it’s changed how we use email. We are less afraid to use email as a system of record, confident that new coworkers will be able to find things. We CC fewer people, confident that people can find and join a conversation when necessary. And we are interrupted a little less by Slack — giving us all more time to think.