Upstart email app Boxer secures $3M to challenge incumbent Mailbox

By Carmel DeAmicis , written on October 16, 2013

From The News Desk

Email sorting application Boxer may have gotten less buzz than its competitor Mailbox, but that doesn't mean it's out of the running. Today the company announced that it raised a $3 million seed round, lead by Sutter Hill Ventures. Sam Pullara, managing director of Sutter Hill Ventures, will be joining the board.

The app has gotten positive reviews from critics. It supports all email clients, from Yahoo to AOL to Gmail, whereas Mailbox only supports Gmail. And it integrates with Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, Evernote, and other clients, whereas Mailbox is Dropbox only.

But at the end of the day, Boxer, just like Mailbox, is more of a feature than a company. So why would institutional investors throw money behind it?

It may be because of Boxer's plans for the future. It aims to become the go to email sorting solution for enterprises. "Businesses are reaching out to us and saying, 'We recognize this is where our sales reps spend a third of their day. People check their inbox every six minutes. We can leverage that attention into improving efficiency,'" Boxer co-founder Andrew Eye says.

Although the company's initial target was consumers, like many other startups it's learning that business is where the money's at. Since Boxer is independent, it has the flexibility to integrate with a broad range of third parties. In other words, it's not a conflict of interest for Boxer to add Google Drive or Box functionality (which it has done), the way it would be for Dropbox's Mailbox.

When Dropbox acquired Mailbox back in March, it seemed like the race to be the winning email sorter app was over. Since its launch, Mailbox has had runaway success -- a viral marketing video, placement in the top five iTunes store apps, millions of downloads. Then Dropbox bought it and started offering fun little perks for users, like a free extra gigabyte of storage to those who downloaded Mailbox.

With the weight of Dropbox behind it, Mailbox could become what it was meant to be -- an excellent feature wrapped into a bigger, larger company. It didn't offer enough to remain a company on its own.

Bryan Goldberg's prediction that Gmail and Apple would roll out Mailboxesque functions, like a snooze button for emails, never came true. Apparently it wasn't as easy as "writing a few proprietary lines of code." Mailbox reigns supreme, king of the inbox on mobile at least.

But Boxer thinks it's not over till the fat businessman sings. It has even more features than Mailbox, including a handy one called "quick replies" that lets you enter in preset responses. It also lets you "like" an email, just the sort of feature Sarah Lacy called for when she discussed how the "like" button has changed the nature of communication.

The email sorting functionality that I'm waiting to see -- and the reason I eventually stopped using Mailbox, even though I was a fan -- is a desktop/browser edition. I want to be able to sort my mail on my computer or on mobile, and not be limited to one platform.

"Mobile is our immediate focus but we recognize there's lots of opportunities to improve desktop mail," Eye says. "It's certainly on our radar."