Messaging apps and social networks have overtaken email for many consumers as their primary way of communicating with people — with some collaboration startups like Slack specifically aiming to kill email altogether. Now a new email app hopes to reverse that trend, bringing people back into the email fold by adopting messaging characteristics.
TL;DR, as the app is called, lets users create short emails of no more than 30 words, giving senders the option then to link to longer versions of their messages or other supporting documents. It then lets users scroll through email threads as they would through a messaging conversation, with easy options to discard those that are no longer needed. It’s out today with a Gmail integration and as an iOS app and with a Chrome extension, with apps for other platforms coming soon.
The app is the brainchild of Ami Ben David, one of the co-founders of Everything.me, the Android launcher startup. (He left Everything.me last year but remains a shareholder.) TL;DR is launching with seed funding from Moshe Hogeg and Singulariteam, a VC out of Israel that today announced a new $102 million fund.
“I started TL;DR because I hated my email,” he tells me. “It was eating my life.”
What TL;DR is offering as its unique selling point is brevity. Those who use the app are effectively forced into trying to think of how to distill their messages into fewer words, while those who are using other email programs will see their messages cut off at the 30-word mark. For those browsing their feeds, threads can be viewed effectively like messaging conversations.
What TL;DR is emphatically not doing (yet) is trying to figure out the best way of shortening the text for you, à la Summly, although this could certainly be one way that it might evolve.
To be sure, there have been other apps that have tried to tackle the email conundrum, all trying to improve on different aspects of what makes email so annoying.
Mailbox (now a part of Dropbox) focuses on making it as simple as possible to discard or file away emails. Inbox from Google attempts to apply some of the company’s search smarts in “a fresh start that goes beyond email to help you get back to what matters.” Dispatch gives users an easy set of buttons to respond to emails when users are on the move.
You can see some of the other popular choices in this quick straw poll I ran on Twitter. What this shows is that email is a platform that is crying out to be made better, but also that there is a crowded roomful of companies already trying to do so.