Los Angeles-based Orgoo is a new webmail service that is going to be a popular application for some users. Not only does it emulate Outlook-style desktop mail applications extremely well, it also integrates instant messaging from all of the major IM providers directly into the interface. If you are looking for a service-independent webmail/IM service, you’ll want to check this out.
If you’ve been around long enough to remember Oddpost, which launched in 2002, you’ll see similarities with Orgoo. Like Oddpost, Orgoo is an Ajax webmail service that lets users access their favorite email accounts via POP or IMAP access. Evolution of the Oddpost service stopped, however, in 2004 when it was acquired by Yahoo. Much of the Oddpost engine has now been integrated into Yahoo mail.
The Orgoo interface has both email and instant messaging on the main dashboard (click on image for large view). Sign into AIM, Live Messenger, Gtalk, ICQ, Yahoo) and chat with your contacts (similar to meebo/ebuddy). You can optionally archive all IM conversations and the drop them into the same folders you use for email – a very handy way of keeping information organized. Since IM archives are saved the same way as emails, users can also forward IM conversations as emails.
Both Gmail and Yahoo offer IM integration within their webmail applications, but neither allow users to log into other third party services. Gmail allows Gtalk only, and Yahoo allows Yahoo IM only. Orgoo is service-independent and so users who have email in one place and IM in another (or use multiple services for both) will find this to be a much more useful application.
One thing I really like about Orgoo is their attention to detail. There are a number of examples of this. Users can choose from a number of visual templates and can upload avatars for emails/IM. Any address in an email or IM turns into a link that shows the address in Google Maps via a popup. They allow users to create on the fly chat rooms. And they are allowing users to record quick audio or video files and send them via email. See screen shots below for the maps and video screen shots.
Orgoo will offer users 3 GB of storage for free. The service is currently in private alpha testing with a handful of USC students only but will be expanding in the coming weeks to a larger group.
The two founders, Sean Rad (20) and Shahzad Tiwana (34) are students at USC and brought in a seasoned veteran, Michael Kantor, as CEO. The company has raised a small round of angel financing and has just 11 employees (three in California, eight in Pakistan).
There are a number of competitors out there. In addition to the webmail services mentioned above, a number of services have great service-neutral webmail services (see our coverage of Goowy). Foldera, a public company, is also a direct competitor but is yet to launch (Disclosure: I am currently on the board of directors of Foldera).
Orgoo has created a lot with a very small team and next to no financing to date. Their biggest challenge going forward won’t be getting users, but proving that their service is scalable. One of the most common complaints about webmail is speed – even Gmail and Yahoo, with unlimited resources, have a hard time keeping their services humming. If Orgoo can keep the service flying, they could become very popular very fast.