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Unsubscribe.com Raises $2.1 Million To Help

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A really really bad idea. From TechCrunch:

How many mailing lists are you on that fill your email inbox every day? Figuring out how to unsubscribe from all of them can be a pain. From that frustration was born Unsubscribe.com, an LA-based startup that just closed a $2.1 million Series A financing. Charles River Ventures led the round. Other investors include Ron Conway's SV Angel, First Round Capital, DFJ Frontier as well as angel investors including Matt Coffin, Tim Ferriss, and Matt Brezina.

Unsubscribe.com was started by James Siminoff (who previously founded PhoneTag/Simulscribe, which is now part of DiTech), Joshua Roth, and Wil Schroter. It adds an "Unsubscribe" button to every email. If you want to unsubscribe from an email or marketing list, all you need to do is click the button, and Unsubscribe takes care of the rest. In order to use the service, you first need to download an extension for your email client. Right now, it supports Outlook and Gmail, or you can forward emails to mail[at]unsubscribe.com if you have an account. (Yahoo, Hotmail, and AOL are coming soon). You get five free unsubscribes per month, or can pay $20 a year for unlimited usage. VC Fred Wilson tried it and he loves it, although he is not an investor.

Siminoff explains the problem he is trying to solve. "Currently people use the delete or spam button for emails that they receive from mailing lists that they do not want. This creates two big issues; it puts good companies on blacklists, and when people use delete they continue to receive emails."

Each unwanted email might have a different way to unsubscribe. Most people just don't bother.. Clicking one button makes it a lot easier. "I am calling the space we are in Email Hygienics," says Siminoff. Unsubscribe.com won't get you all the way to Inbox Zero, but it can help get rid of a lot of the garbage.

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A really really bad idea. From TechCrunch:

I agree. This sort of thing has been tried before, I wonder whether these folks have done any due diligence on the subject. There are at least three problems:
  1. Criminal spammers won't use it, unless (perversely) they can find a way to engineer it to help them to build mailing lists.
  2. Honest and competent mail operations don't need it, because by and large they offer their own effective removal techniques.
  3. Mailers who are honest but not so clueful won't realize they should use it (or something like it).

How exactly do they go about unsubscribing from some random message, which may have its own (often convoluted) removal links? How do these guys figure to pay back the $2.1M through nothing but $20 annual subscriptions? And we're supposed to download an executable to our computers in order to use this? Very scary, that.

-- rick

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