Attention founders: Here's how you respond to an unfair post about your company

By Paul Bradley Carr , written on November 30, 2012

From The News Desk

A week or so ago, I wrote about Sendicate, a startup that aims to provide much-needed innovation in the email newsletter arena. In the post, I referenced a couple of Sendicate's much more established competitiors including MailChimp which we use to send our daily NSFWCORP emails.

I wrote...

In its simplest form, Sendicate is an email newsletter service, competing in the same space as Mailchimp and Exact Target. But the similarities don’t go much further than that: Sendicate is what the email newsletter would look like it were invented today, without a couple of decades of legacy thinking.
Unsurprisingly, MailChimp founder, Ben Chestnut took issue with the implication that his company was (with its 2.5 million users) stuffy by comparison to the upstart Sendicate. But whereas a lot of other founders would send a dull, whiny self-justifying response about how unnnnfffaaaiiirrr I'm being (or, in the case of Uber's Travis Kalanick, would call a pet reporter at a content-farm to plant a snarky piece of damage limitation), Ben sent what should be taught in schools as the textbook response that kind of post.

With his permission, here's Ben's email. He makes some great points, about MailChimp and email newletters generally.

From: Ben Chestnut To: Paul Carr

Hi there, I'm the founder of MailChimp.

This was a great piece from Mr. Carr (though I am biased):

But a couple statements there made me worried that you think MailChimp's not innovating or something.

"For example, if the email newsletter were invented today, it’d be far, far easier to build a sexy looking HTML email. No code, not hacking of templates — just something as simple to use as Tumblr, which allows authors to drop in graphic and text elements into a pre-designed “theme”, like a child piling up building blocks."

MailChimp's built for business (who prefer templates), but we actually have TinyLetter for people. For example, NSFWCORP might use MailChimp, but for personal emails to fans, Mr. Carr might choose TinyLetter. It's very Tumblr-esque, and we've made it unbelievably simple and mobile-centric. Like Tumblr, it's totally free. Backstory to the whole TinyLetter thing in this post on AllThingsD. We confused the f*ck out of people (including my own employees) when we did TinyLetter, but there's a trend in personal communication that we want to be ahead of. It's at over 50k users right now, and growing strong.

And FWIW, MailChimp has a new, very simple way to make mobile-friendly emails here. With that new editor, we've reinvented email templates by simplifying them down to mobile-friendly layouts. People are asking why in the hell we've ditched so many templates, but mobile is the future blah-blah.

"And then there’s the fact that most email newsletters today still exist in isolation."

We send about 4 billion emails per month for 2.5 million users, who manage about 2 billion emails. And they're not in isolation. We have something called the Email Genome Project that works to connect all that email data.

It's not just R&D, either. We already have a customer-facing app, called Wavelength:

(you might try it out to learn more about the other content your readers enjoy)

and EGP powers some behind-the-scenes services that prevent email abuse and protect the email ecosystem:

Some of the work we're doing here can be used by outside services, as we've demonstrated with our mobile app Unfurlr (surely Mr. Carr deals with scantily clad fembots too, so he might find it useful).

You can see some of the amazing (and applied) research our in-house mathematician has published here:

"A service like Mailchimp hosts hundreds of thousands (millions?) of lists, but there’s no easy way for a subscriber to list X to discover that they might very well enjoy the content of list Y. Jackson hopes to change that by developing a “Netflix-style recommendation engine” for email newsletters."

It's in the millions (at least one for each of the 2.5M users). For MailChimp, we learned through our Wavelength launch that business customers do not want their readers to get suggestions for their competitors' newsletter content. But for personal emails that might be sent from TinyLetter (or Sendicate) that would be more conceivable. Writers, musicians, and artists love the idea. Someone who likes Michael Lopp:

might also like Alexis Madrigal

or Christopher Mims:

There was some mention of Sendicate's social aspirations, too. Personally, I don't subscribe to the idea of sharing content from email to social. It's just not that modular. Not to mention it looks lazy. However, I do believe that social data is tremendously helpful for learning more about your readers. For your NSFWCORP account, you may want to activate some of MailChimp's social features:

Yep, this was a very, very long-winded email (sorry) but that's because email is far from dead, and our little company is innovating on email like crazy, and have lots to say about it.

If I can be of any assistance to you for your account, let me know. Or, if you ever need someone to ask about the email industry, you know I'm a talker.

Eep eep,


------ Ben Chestnut Co-Founder & CEO MailChimp