6 months ago we got an astounding amount of attention for our ideas and our prototype. Email is quite clearly a thing that needs fixing and we still feel quite passionate about that. It’s an ambitious undertaking, but well worth trying.
At this point, however, we’ve decided to call an end to Fluent. There are many things that cause startups to rise and fall: fund raising, runways, scaling and other promising opportunities; they all played their part. We feel that we couldn’t keep running the service as it is, and now’s the time to move on.
We are very grateful to everyone who has supported our ideas and vision. A big apology to the 70,000 people who signed up and never got in — we tried very hard but couldn’t pull it off.
For all our existing users: we’ll be turning off the Fluent servers at 5pm Friday, August 17 (Sydney time). We will delete all data on our servers at that point. If there’s anything you’re worried about losing (which there shouldn’t be, as all your email continues to be available on Gmail) please contact us.
The people who are going to miss Fluent the most are us. We’ll miss how effortless it is to stay in the flow of discussions. We’ll miss our instant search. We’ll miss how fast it is to respond to queries and how easy it is to check multiple accounts. But to run a service like this requires full-time attention. Attention that we can’t give it anymore.
Starting Fluent was an incredible experience. We learned a ton about ourselves and the ins and outs of running a startup. We met some fantastic people, and got some incredible opportunities that we wouldn’t have had otherwise.
Each member of the team is starting on a new project, so keep an ear out for what we have in the works.
Who knows, maybe someday we’ll get back to fixing this email thing.
The Fluent Team
We thought we’d write a quick update and tell you what’s been happening in Fluentland. We launched our beta on February 21 and were blown away by the media attention and number of people who were eager to try us out. We’re furiously working to let all of them on, but in the meantime we’ve also rolled out some features to keep all our important users happy!
Here are the most important changes to Fluent over the last few weeks (on top of a slew of bug fixes that people have been kind enough to notify us about):
We like archiving, but lots of you like deleting as well, so we made it a first-class citizen in your Fluent stream. Click once one the trash icon and you’re done: another email closer to inbox zero!
The biggest thing we’ve been spending time with has been syncing changes made in Gmail or other clients (like your mobile phone). We’ve now got it so that within 15 minutes you should see changes (including deletes) synced into Fluent, but we’ll keep working hard on it.
When you’ve got a lot of emails to get through it’s good to be in the zone. And clicking “Show more” all the time takes you out of that zone. To keep you fully zoneified Fluent now loads more emails automatically. Keep scrolling all the way to San Jose.
Sometimes you want to reply all, sometimes you want to reply just to the sender. If you take a peek in the dropdown menu for an email you’ll now find a “Reply to sender” option which will do just that.
Resizable reading panel
Some people like peanut butter ice cream, some people don’t (weirdos). Some people also like to read their emails at a narrower width, so we made the reading panel size adjustable. Grab its left edge and you can adjust it just how you like.
Thanks again to everyone who’s using Fluent and helping us turn it into the best email experience for your workflow! Your feedback is invaluable, so keep it coming.
On Tuesday February 21 the Sydney Morning Herald published a rather glowing article about us. We’d prepared for our first, small amount of public attention by creating a sign up form announcing that we were in beta, and expected about 500 people to wander by and ask for an account (about as much as our current server can handle). We weren’t, however, prepared for the tidal wave.
Three days later we had tens of thousands of signups, over 100 news articles linking to us; thousands of tweets doing the same. We’d made it to the top of Hacker News and the demo server that we’d thrown together 24 hours before launch was melting. OK, great start.
We love that our ideas have resonated with so many people. Thank you for such infectious enthusiasm and encouragement. It’s a great validation of the work that we’ve done so far and it makes us so, so excited for what the product is going to be. However, that amount of attention places different problems before us than the ones we were expecting.
So now … now we have to find a way to get everyone who signed up on, and that requires a lot of scaling. A lot of scaling, a lot of servers and a lot of coding. Scaling, servers and coding all cost money, so that’s what we’re scrambling to do now: while slowly letting people on we’re meeting with investors who can help us grow our business to meet the demand. And it’ll take a little while. The time that we’re taking to talk to investors is less time we have to work on the product, so we want to get it out of the way as quickly as possible and get back to the product.
As we mentioned, we’re slowly letting people on, but it’s slooow. We would love, love, love to share Fluent with everyone, but to get through our current queue will take a couple of months, so hold tight. We’re getting there.
Remember when you first signed up to Hotmail? And you had an inbox that was row upon row of subject lines? And you clicked on one and you got to see that person’s eye-searing combination of fonts & colours? Yeah, email hasn’t changed that much. In fact, it hasn’t changed much in 40 years.
The three of us left Google to form Fluent out of a desire to create a communication product that is design-led, fast moving and — most importantly — pushes email into the future. A tool that accurately reflects how people communicate today and will adapt to what they want tomorrow.
To fulfil this vision we’re building a product based on six principles:
That last point is a big one. We feel we’ve already built a product that ticks the first five boxes (go ahead, take a look). We’ll always make sure that Fluent is top of its game in those areas, but we think that communication is more than just a text box. We’ve got some great plans for how to truly integrate collaborative notes, file sharing, image manipulation & task management into your communication and we’d love to have your input.
Fluent is all about you and how you communicate. We’ve currently using our beta to get enthusiastic people on early and help us shape what the future of email is going to be. If that sounds good to you then sign-up, get using, and enjoy communicating like it’s the 21st Century.