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Basecamp’s founders are trying to start an email rebellion (protocol.com)
341 points by tosh 12 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 212 comments

"Three months into the pandemic, the argument about the moral and economic superiority of the modern office is over. Remote work works."

So, I have worked (mostly) remotely for years, and I don't think I agree with this. It works for some people, in some situations. There are absolutely times when you need to be in the office with other people, and even if my client is in another town I have to drive over there to talk to people in person.

This from a person who works one of the most remote-friendly jobs (computer programmer), who is obviously not opposed to the idea because I do it myself most of the time. But I think what a lot of people discovered is that working remotely _doesn't_ work.

It probably also works worse over time, as the personal contacts made in person, fray after a longer and longer period without in-office conversations. I would not be surprised if some companies, currently paying sky-high salaries for employees in very high cost of living areas, find it attractive to enable more remote work. If and where it works, great. But the idea that everyone will do it in the future, is just fantasy.

I've worked remotely now for just shy of 10 years in a row and more like 15 years total out of a 25 year IT career.

I have found the biggest hurdles to remote work usually boil down to one thing, your clients or employer and fellow employees, who still "go into" an office, need to buy into the remote worker situation. This usually entails wrapping their heads around fewer meetings (even adhoc ones) and utilizing online tools exclusively...namely Slack, Teams, Skype, etc.

What has helped tremendously is that since most companies adopted a sudden and an across the board "work from home" policy, it's forced collaboration via different avenues. Those of us who already worked from home, now are included in meetings and discussions that we would normally be left out of because our face wasn't physically in an office.

I'm hopeful that we'll see a broader adoption rate even for those that still like the physical office, will be able to work from home on an as wanted basis..sick kid....sick spouse...deliveries expected...plumbing needs fixed..etc.

I've found that the biggest problem was missing those things that got discussed informally around the office.

There would be interesting problems you could solve, but you rarely heard about them.

I've become quite adept over the years at building up contacts across different parts of the business org, just through quick "water cooler" chats with people I meet while I'm making a cuppa. I'll even go to a different floor from time to time just to expose me to more people. The convenience factor of "Hi, how are you doing?" turning in to a little bit more of a conversation, in a circumstance when I know I'm not disturbing them in the middle of something. I don't get that with Slack etc.

I'm really enjoying a bunch of the aspects of working from home, and picking up a strong preference for it, but I can't help but wonder about the impact less casual contact with other teams is having on overall performance. There's a lot you can get solved, much faster, by having friendly contacts all over the place (which of course, you have to be careful not to abuse or they'll stop being friendly contacts).

That applies both to problems I'm dealing with, and problems they're dealing with that we'd never know about under other circumstances.

All excellent points, and all things which I would expect to become gradually bigger problems over time, as the "water cooler" info you compiled, becomes less and less current.

> It works for some people, in some situations.

Wouldn’t this be a general truth of every work environments ?

Big office in a metropolitan area, small office in a small town, huge office and factory in a completely remote area, shared offices around the world with membership access to any instance, shared office with rotation between member who work remotely otherwise.

I can’t see a single setting that would work for everyone, or even more than 80% of the workforce. Remote is just a flavor among all of these, and we’re at a point where we can agree it works for some. That’s good enough IMO.

I absolutely love a lot of the Basecamp philosophy, I just don’t get the remote work thing. But they’re right about almost everything (or, I agree with them which to a human is the same thing), so they must be right about this too. So what am I missing?

Remote work is lonely, isolating. You don’t have the same connection to a team. We don’t “go remote” with our friends and family as a policy (why bother reopening the pubs?) so what is it about colleagues that makes you think you don’t need to interact face to face with them? Humans are monkeys in suits and this biochemical robot needs proper input please.

Ideation of any kind is garbage over Zoom. Ideation needs whiteboards and tea and hand gestures and walks outside and background noise and serendipity. I need that look you make that says “stupid” so we don’t waste any many time on this. I need to hear you sigh with exasperation.

When things go wrong I don’t want to ask a slack channel wall of text for help, I want my team to pull together and buzz through it, supporting each other with their physical presence. I don’t want fucking emoticons I want real emotions.

>>We don’t “go remote” with our friends and family as a policy

Not as a policy, but we probably do more of it to our detriment. It's a really excellent point.

I believe if anything this pandemic has shown, is that remote work is much worse than in office work.

Boring Video meetings. Lack of interactions. It takes two or three times to do the same things remotely in my line of work (Product Manager).

It is good to have the flexibility of working remotely, but I will never choose it as my way of working.

what is the psychology behind those countless, sometimes day-long meetings? A mix of collective procrastination and signaling of business?

I'm not opposed to small, high interaction (not passive listening!) calls that are time-boxed; but somebody, somewhere will have to do actual work. The allocation between coordination/planning and execution seems way off in many companies.

Remote work has its advantages and disadvantages, objectively speaking.

Subjectively, remote work doesn't work for me. It's depressing and I feel disconnected. I need physical human interaction.

I agree regarding the personal contacts. I've been working remotely for 10 years. But I think it works for me because I have a network of colleagues that I met and became friends with while working in offices over a previous 10 year period.

Bingo. I think this is the only reason it's working for my group right now and people declaring it "successful".

Like someone said above, we have no idea of the long term consequences.

Is there a difference between the statements "Remote work works" and "It works for some people, in some situations." It's not like Basecamp said "Remote work works for everyone all the time in every situation ever." They just said it does work, as a counterpoint to the traditional IT company belief that tech is something that's hard to do remotely because of those "watercooler moments". To be honest, they don't even say it's necessarily better than office-based work as far as the work is concerned; they only say it's possible, and morally and economically better. It could be morally and economically better despite producing worse results. That would need to be measured at any given company who tried it.

C-19 lockdown has proven that pretty much every tech company is capable of working remotely. "Remote work works" is true.

On the short term it works. We will have to see about the long run.

Why will we have to see? It's not like this is the first time anyone has worked remotely. People have been working remotely for decades, which is proof that it works for those people. In fact entire companies recently (last 5ish years) have created entirely remote companies.

In at least some companies (e.g. Yahoo), they decided it worked, and then later decided no, it didn't. I wouldn't be surprised if we see a lot of backpedaling on remote work, after six months or so.

The Yahoo situation was that mgmt. counted people who said they worked remotely vs. "vpn" connections, and mgmt. said that they found employees were lying about actually doing work.

Some of the things not clarified were:

- engineers had alternate vpn and connection methods, so what was the breakdown of engineers vs. non-engineers? Were all VPN connections counted (I don't think they were.)

- a large percentage of the staff had mentally checked out, evidenced by the gym being full between 1 pm and 5 pm. That was a bigger issue, since showing up is meaningless if you're not engaged. This isn't as bad as it sounds, as Mayer's job was to preserve the value of the Alibaba holdings, not do anything at Yahoo, hence the logo font change and ymail facelifts.

- does one have to be on a vpn connection to do work? Employees can edit a Word document without being connected.

- I think the parking lots were full, so some staff staying home was a good thing, rather than circling the block for who knows how long.

So if you're going to use stats, they should be based on results, not something as fuzzy as "vpn" counts, as in the Yahoo case. Unless your agenda is "let's ban remote work."

Source: worked there.

Elsewhere on HN I read mention that it works wonderfully until you want a raise.

The doubt sits with those who don't want to work remotely but now have to.

There are more than one example of successful companies working remote-first style for quite a while. Gitlab, shopify, I probably can find more.

The jobs that (no doubt) require face to face interaction will just have to be named differently.

> I would not be surprised if some companies, currently paying sky-high salaries for employees in very high cost of living areas, find it attractive to enable more remote work.

Billions will be struggling to survive at the bottom until we pay people more for what they do than where they live. I don't see why the disrupt mantra should only apply everywhere else?

I can find really bad coders who can live comfortably on 400 euro per month. They are mostly bad because there is no entrance to the ivory tower. I was rather shocked by the laser like focus in people living on next to nothing. There is no casual chit chat, no time to read random articles about disrupting email and no room for a joke.

There is a massive echo chamber around remote work within tech circles - including HN, mostly driven by an extremely small, but extremely loud minority.

This coincides with the kind of bubbles that people live in, which isn't all that surprising.

Management's convenient insistence that remote work hinders collaboration is a bubble, I agree.

I have worked remote full time for over half decade now and for the couple years before that it was optional. My opinion is that the work environment should he more fluid. There should be an option to WFH or office but whatever you choose on whatever particular day the environment should accommodate that.

It's hard to disagree that "it depends", but it's also hard to disagree that "remote work", generally, "works", and that it does so in contradiction with the assumptions and skepticism towards it that were much more established before the pandemic.

This is quite an innovative approach to email, and they describe the features here: https://hey.com/features/

- screening by default

- removes email tracking pixels

- streamlined reply/read flows

- improved attachment handling

- doesn't interrupt you by default

There's also a video tour of the product from the CEO here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=296&v=UCeYTysLyG...

For me as a gmail user I'm keen to try this out.

A lot of the features advertised by HEY have been sorely missing from Gmail for a long time. I wouldn't exactly call them innovative. Gmail will have an easy time implementing these features, now that someone is kicking them out of their decade-long slumber.

Plenty of people will be happy to pay for a quality and not-Google email service. Glad to see they have the resources and willpower to do this!

Google had an innovative email platform called Inbox that was widely loved by its users and they killed it two years ago. If the market is not billions of people they just don't care about it.

I loved Inbox, but what actually happened there was that there were two visions of Gmail 2.0 internally. Inbox didn’t win, partly because it was written in a nightmarish C++ framework, but some of its best features were brought into Gmail.

Gmail is a conservatively managed product, but it does improve over time.

Nobody I know who used Inbox feels that the current Gmail interface—even with some Inbox features backported—is an acceptable substitute for Inbox.

Have you tried the Simplify GMail browser extension? It made the transition from Inbox to GMail less painful to me.


That looks quite nice. Is there an alternative for Safari?

Now you know one. :)

Main thing its missing which i miss daily is bundles. Auto travel bundle was super helpful. Also it had a better ui..

I'm intrigued. How could the framework of a certain programming language affect the product, in this case Inbox?

My understanding is that development of Inbox slowed and became unpleasant because the C++ generated JS was unattractive to developers at Google, and it didn’t have the internal support for a rewrite. Since the Gmail product was the incumbent, has more developers and is probably refactored often enough to maintain a certain code quality level, and several Inbox features were compatible with Gmail, the Inbox product had no leverage to get itself enough support to stay alive.

What is Gmail written in?

Java, compiled with Closure

Google should have written seasons 7 and 8 of Game of Thrones.

Just chuckled at this.

Gmail won't implement most of these features, due to the classic innovator's dilemma. Too many people use and expect Gmail to work like a regular email app, chronological stack of emails with read and unread, so even though these features may help the more productive users, Gmail can't alienate most of its other users.

What they could do is create another email app, which they did called Inbox, but then they killed it and most of its features, which were similar to Hey's, haven't been incorporated, precisely due to the reasons above.

I think being able to edit the subject and take private notes directly attached to the email are really good features.

"take private notes directly attached to the email"

what does this mean?

Just a guess: maybe they treat email threads as a document. You can then add comments to it (i.e just notes for yourself and not for others)

I get it now, thanks y'all.

Imagine using a draft reply in Gmail as a notepad on a thread. It's that plus a few other things, but you don't have to worry about accidentally hitting send at some point, it's properly designated as a note (how the interfaces displays it, I don't know).

I thought Gmail loaded images when it got the email, not when users opened it? Doesn't this prevent pixels from tracking?

This might have been the plan, but it doesn't happen in my experience. I've tested it multiple times and Gmail loads those images when you open the email and it's possible to track when users open their email. It also appears that Gmail loads those tracking pixels every time you open that email, doesn't do caching, so it's possible to track how many times the recipient opens the email.

The redeeming quality is that by proxying those images, your IP and User-Agent are no longer leaked. But that's it.

You can disable automatic image loading on the settings page via a desktop browser.

the Video looks great. Reply later, and set aside do seem really useful. I'd like that for work email, not just a personal hey.com address. I wonder if they considered just building an email client. A lot of this doesn't require a special backend, and could be done for any email provider with a special client. Then it wouldn't require anyone to change addresses.

Blocking tracking pixels/external images is standard in outlook and many other email clients/providers.

I’m disappointed in Hey so far.

It’s a closed system (no IMAP).

They are charging a premium price for it over Fastmail or Google Gsuite.

There is no calendar.

No ability to import old emails into it.

Seems like they could have just released a mail app sitting on top of Fastmail and had more/better features from day one.

We need to stop using Fastmail as the go-to example of email done right.

They recycle your email address once you stop paying. A great black hat technique is to gather up all Fastmail addresses you can find in the wild and poll them to see when they're available again. Then launch social engineering attacks from them to impersonate the previous user. I found this out the hard way.

Amateur hour. At least DHH has said hey.com locks your email address for eternity, the only right way to do it.

In my book "email done right" is using email addresses on your own domain.

Using @fastmail.com makes no sense to me. If being locked into somebody else's domain is acceptable, then Gmail is a better deal.

And if you still insist on using somebody else's domain, then all bets are off after you stop using that account. First of all because the service provider can always change their policies. Just like how when Yahoo announced in 2013 out of the blue that they'll start recycling usernames.

Fastmail is a paid service, you own that username for as long as you keep paying. The notion that you can take up resources, for free, for all eternity, is only sustainable for big companies like Google. And given how crowded @gmail.com is, I wouldn't put it past them to start recycling in a couple of years.

Using your own domain has the same problem. If you ever stop paying for that domain, or lose it for some other reason, someone else could purchase it and start impersonating your email.

How would you prevent that, everyone only uses a well known email provider domain that doesn't recycle addresses?

If someone takes over a domain they can also get https certificates, reset all their passwords and do all kinds of other things that are related to it if there's no second factor. That's just what you have to accept if you don't renew a domain.

Fairly recently there was a story about somebody getting locked out of their gsuite account because their domain dns was hacked (IIRC) so a custom domain also introduces an additional attack vector.

It's not the same thing, because by paying for it you have a binding contract and can switch providers too. If you don't pay for it, then you don't have a claim on that email address, as the terms of use can change at a moment's notice.

If paying for it is a problem, then pay it in advance for 10 years and setup automatic renewal. Also leave a digital will. You probably want to do that anyway.

How is that not the same thing as paying for an email account with fastmail?

In terms of the binding agreement, it isn't any different, except you can can move to different providers whereas if you don't own that domain, the service provider has you by the balls.

I use my own domains but if those expire someone else can gain access to my email? Don't forget that domain names can be valuable and may need to get sold if someone bids high enough.

So you mean to say "email done your own uncompromising way"?

You can use a custom domain with FastMail, and they aren’t reading your mail to target ads at you.

Yes, I am aware, I'm a Fastmail customer.

> they aren’t reading your mail to target ads at you

Neither does Google ;-)

> Neither does Google ;-)

This is true since 2017 : https://variety.com/2017/digital/news/google-gmail-ads-email...

Ok, so compare to protonmail or tutanota. The point is the price is high compared to other paid email providers. If you want to revolutionize email, you're not going to do it with a proprietary system that costs > $8 a month.

Oh hello no. Any source on this? What's the timeframe?

I don't get how they can complain about Google stifling innovation in an open system since 2004 and then close off their counter-offering by not offering IMAP.

I'm gonna stick with running my own mail server to get around Gmail. It's $5 a month, has a calendar, I can use any mail app I want to, I could import old emails if I cared to. I'm also sure I could get the "tracking pixel name-n-shame" feature they're so excited about if I took some time to write some in-depth filters.

The feature set would be extremely difficult to clone via IMAP + SMTP without being confusing. One of the major features is that you can change the subject that is displayed on an incoming email, and that it won't be changed when you respond (so if someone sent you an email with "no subject" as the subject, you can change it to "foo bar foo". They will still see "no subject" when you reply, and conversations won't be broken in Outlook). That'd be very hard to clone in an arbitrary email client that didn't know how to fix it. Another one is that every unique sender gets put into a screening folder until you tell hey where to put it (inbox/paper trail/feed), and that functionality can't be cloned in a email client (because they don't know how to force you to answer that question).

Even if they found a way to make it work now, every time they had a new feature they wanted to add to their web client, they'd have to worry about making it not break Outlook/Thunderbird/$RandomEmacsMailClient, because if it does people are going to miss emails and leave the service. And since their target market is people who hate the way email works today anyway, the target market probably won't ever want to touch IMAP again if they can help it. If they want to go back, all their mail can be exported and new mail will be forwarded to their next address. It seems fine to me.

> every unique sender gets put into a screening folder

I just set up a gmail filter to have everything skip the inbox. Adding exceptions is not so convenient but it works.

> I'm also sure I could get the "tracking pixel name-n-shame" feature they're so excited about if I took some time to write some in-depth filters.

Sure, _you_ could, but how many other potential customers can?

I'll admit, the lack of IMAP is a bit of an issue for me as well, but the other features may overcome it.

I've always been interested in running my own mailserver, but whenever I've tried, it's been surprisingly difficult (getting my IP accidentally blacklisted and stuff like that). What was your experience setting up your own server like?

I use runbox.com and am very happy with it tbh, basically has everything you seem to be looking for (but you don't have to self-host which I never want to do for email).

> It’s a closed system (no IMAP).

That's a huge bummer :(

Does Hey support custom domains? IMAP and custom domain support would make Hey very appealing as a Fastmail replacement after Australia shot its tech industry in the foot with new surveillance regulation.

Edit: Looks like custom domain support is planned but not yet available: https://hey.com/faqs/

Edit edit: timdorr beat me to it :D

Or more significantly not yet. This is still in development and they've only sent out invites

Considering >50% of my email is just meeting invites I don’t see Hey as being an option right now. Throw in no IMAP support and I’m not sure if I would ever use this service.

Who is this intended for? Genuinely curious.

Plus the weird brag(?) about "we don't use artificial intelligence, we use human intelligence".

I dunno. Seems like a marketing-first ploy to get $99 from a lot of people who aren't looking too closely or who don't really use email seriously to begin with.

Or don't like current email clients

IMAP support is completely pointless for most people, but most people like privacy, and most people have to use email.

I use a calendar and email as two different applications. But I see the two have been tightly linked for decades. What is the workflow that demands this integration? Some clients will automatically create events from emails. But don't you get many more emails with dates in that you don't need to schedule for compared to the events you'll attend? Or there's the unified alerts when an important event is upcoming and when an important email arrives. But years ago we didn't have OS-level notification APIs like we do now. What am I overlooking that unified mail+calendar does that isn't available when they're separate?

It's convenient.

Example. I recently scheduled 35 podcast episodes with 35 different people.

Each one required me to propose various dates and times to folks, and lock in specific times that didn't overlap. This meant opening my calendar and inbox side by side to see what's available while writing an email to someone to propose a few times.

Then for locking in a specific time, gmail will intelligently auto-complete the calendar event notification email address of the person you have open so you can send them a calendar invite link quickly on their end.

Without this tight integration there would have been a silly amount of copy / pasting.

Sounds like you could really use something like https://calendly.com/.

That would require mucking around with another external tool. Google's calendar works quite well.

It's one of those things where everything just works with the least amount of set up on my end.

In this case, this particular tool saves a tremendous amount of time in doing what you’re describing. I just started using it last year and was reluctant to, and it really does act like a little scheduling assistant.

Companies with any significant amount of employees use email as the back end of calendar synchronization. Think managers with 40 meetings a week.

I was starting to get intrigued reading the article, but inability to import old mail (and inability to export backups via IMAP) I'd a definite deal breaker for me.

But you can export in mbox format.

Hadn't realized that, admittedly I kinda stopped reading after the no IMAP, no import. Thank you for correcting me.

I'm still struggling to understand the decision making here though: this is a premium product pricing itself above the various GSuite/Exchange/Online/Fastmail, and demanding a significant time investment from users (for the whitelisting). There is of course nothing wrong with that, and I really like the idea of a premium, well crafted email system.

However, the lack of archive import (and of sync'ing to alternate email addresses it seems?) seems puzzling here.

I'm not sure that the Venn diagram intersection of people who really care about email but do not require import of their current archives is a large enough market to go after.

I have a small-ish archive (15 years) and any service that wasn't able to work with is a nonstarter for me. I imagine while not the most common situation, we are talking about premium email here...

It also doesn't support custom domains, just @hey.com addresses:

> Can I use my own custom domain with HEY?

> Not yet, but eventually you’ll be able to set up email@yourdomain.com. Until then, everyone who uses HEY will get a @hey.com email address.

I think that some of the features they have are just not possible as a mail app sitting on top of another service.

I understand the frustration around no IMAP but by the sound of it the UI for Hey ("there's no Inbox, there's Imbox") implies that it might not make sense for this to be accessed in the way normal e-mail is.

Same, not impressed at all.

I tried sending a couple of photos to my Hey account and it rejected the email at around 20MB in attachments.

They claim 100GB of storage space, but what use is that if a 20MB attachment can't even make it through.

Have you used Basecamp for any period of time? I'm excited about Hey because I think it will bring the organization and clarity to email that I have enjoyed in Basecamp for a long time.

I love IMAP, I just wish I could disable IDLE in macOS Mail Mojave or later. I prefer no interruptions, but can’t turn them off now.

Maybe HEY will kick some of these ideas back to the forefront.

Fastmail is based in Australia. Some use cases might have issues with that.

The pricing is more than steep. For that amount I can also buy an office 365 subscription which doesn't sell my data, and gives me access to all the desktop tools. I mean I'm willing to spend for this for a private mail address with a new way of working (I could even live without imap), but I can't justify these costs.

For a private email address the pricing does indeed seem quite steep.

For a business email system it seems to miss a few features, especially around meetings.

Email seems to be warming to innovation again, but an approach that doesn't go for rip and replace, but rather augments and extends these features into existing email clients might have its benefits? e.g. Yablo [1] extends Outlook with a team collaboration and productivity environment, but it is still the full Outlook client and email to the outside world, so existing workflows and integrations built around that aren't disrupted.

[1] https://yablo.io (currently in open beta)

Yeah, 99$ seems like to much for me. I currently pay ~24€ for secure private email hosting in the EU. Not so many fancy features, but it does include a entire gsuite clone

Which provider is this? Sounds like what I'm looking for.

Mailbox.org They are based in berlin, price scales with storage usage iirc

I also use them. Their plans start at 1 euro a month. Works fine but once in a while my mail client gets login errors that go away after 5-10 min.

i assume it's using OX. OX is not really gsuite clone, most of the apps are nowhere near the same quality.

I sure hope that custom domains will be included in that price. If so, I'll gladly pay the premium amount for the extra features.

>which doesn't sell my data

I read this as you're implying that Hey is going to sell your data. Correct me if I'm wrong.

The Hey marketing pages explicitly say that your messages are encrypted and your data is never sold.

No, you should read it as “also doesn’t sell my data”. The point is that office 365 offers a lot more value than hey for the same price.

Almost every individual product or feature offered by O365 has a premium competitor. This dismays some people, but it’s fine that the default options in Office don’t work for everyone.

Yes, specially if you are outside of the US or most of Europe.

> which doesn't sell my data

For now (also, are you sure?).

With HEY I can trust my data won't be sold as long as DHH or Jason are alive (and maybe after that). I can't be sure Microsoft or any other company won't change their TOS even this afternoon. In fact, I can be sure they will eventually if it fits them.

They mentioned that Gmail, Apple, and others don't do anything to stop you from getting emailed from people you don't want to hear from, but this new tool does. I've only gotten a probably less than 10 spam messages in the past decade, they all go into Spam. I check spam every once in a while for the occasional time there is a false positive, but otherwise requires no action from me. Vs basecamp approach which is more akin to having every first time email sender go to a spam folder (screener), where I have to manually approve or deny it. Unless I'm missing something that sounds like an incredible amount of work, vs the spam feature of Gmail and others. Yes you only have to do it once per sender, but most all the spam in my spam folder is always from unique email addresses so would be a nightmare with this tool. And even if they still have a seperate spam system, then all the normal emails I'd have to manually approve. Eek. And they are asking you to switch to a "hey" email which is a major ask for most of us who maybe have had our emails for a decade or more. And that email address could go away at anytime if the system fails since hard to imagine hey.com existing in a decade.

HEY also has a spam filter which every email hits before it hits The Screener.


Have you ever been on the receiving end of a sales person's drip campaign?

Yes and I click the Unsubscribe link if I don’t want to receive anymore emails

You have to dig for the unsubscribe link at the bottom of the email, navigate the unsubscribe website interface which is always wildly different and sometimes absolutely confusing (possibly on purpose). Then finally you have to hope they honor the request.

I think the screener sounds great. I hate that pretty much all online retailers equate a purchase with "we can send you marketing emails". Having a consistent, up front interface to kill these emails that will always work is very nice.

Yeah, that works great when they make a new list each month.. I’ve had to threaten GPDR complaints to get off lists I hadn’t even subscribed too haha

At that point you just mark them as spam, no?

They can similarly create a new FROM address for the campaign then to get around Hey?

I haven't had a single legitimate company ignore a firm and strongly worded e-mail or phone call asking to not be contacted again. Plus in Europe we have the GDPR on our side and while it's not actually being enforced, mentioning it is usually enough to raise some eyebrows.

Just use https://forwardemail.net (I'm the creator)

We're launching our own Gmail alternative, so if you want beta access just toss me a message or sign up for an account on our site to get notified.

We're also a completely open and transparent startup. 100% of the source code is open-source and 100% of our data is open.



Are you using machine translation? The Danish version that I get by default seems weird, not exactly bad but just weird choices of words and some sentences.

Yes, will have humans fix the machine translated versions soon!

This looks VERY good. Over 30 years, I have used/hosted/paid for all sorts of email systems. For myself and clients



ISP/own servers/managed servers/Fastmail/GMail/etc

Currently, I use FastMail for my personal and my own businesses, and Gmail with my Employer. I very much Like FastMail, but very much dislike Gmail.

Hey.com really looks like it is solving many issues with using and email interface and workflow. Many of these issues are not solvable with standard email servers. So I get why they are not running a plain IMAP server.

Still for myself, I would need to wait for Domain support, and at least some sort of live sync to a IMAP server for backup.

Alternatively, maybe FastMail could layer some of these ideas on top of their IMAP based systems. (I hold little hope of gmail improving)

They provide some kind of mbox export. I wonder if that's something that can be hit on a crontab.

This is nice, but doesn't solve the real problem. Its 2020 and its really hard to find something. Ideally there would be one place to organize/manipulate different information/date providers and email would just be one of many.

For example: If I get a file via email, I might also have a local copy that got updated and is newer. Part of the conversation might not have happened on email but on [random messenger app] and on one of the many [things with a CPU] that I own. Even with a Hey like system, the situation stays almost the same → the user has to remember "stuff" and look-up different places to find what he is searching for → this is sooo 1990. </rant>

now that gmail is showing me ads within their Android app, I'm looking to change providers. The trouble is, Gmail's search is so fantastic that it is very hard to move away from. Without search, there is no way to navigate a decade worth of email.

Anyone remembers the app called Mailbox that was acquihired by Dropbox and killed?

God, it was so intuitive, smooth, and simple, with features I _still_ can’t find in 2020 (like reordering the emails in the inbox). I would easily pay 200 USD a year to use that one.

Mailbox and Sunrise being acquired are some of the saddest losses over the last few years. Both superior products, that would remain extremely competitive today.

I'm extremely bitter about Sunrise in particular, because both Google and Apple have such mediocre calendar platforms.

The founders like to market this as "not just another email client" but after watching their intro demo it's essentially a bunch of UI changes to email flows.

Sure there's some upfront email blockage/filtering that goes on, but that's essentially other UI tweaks in camouflage.

I'm not saying UI isn't cool! For sure some of the things they talk about sound interesting (like the reply later stacks at the bottom).

For the general tech-savvy people all the UI you generally need lives behind a highly functional "search box": "give me all the email i read yesterday in the evening"; "reply to emails I tagged with 'important' last week"; etc.

Overall I think they're trying to solve problems that are encountered by so called "famous email addresses" (the founders most certainly fall in this category) where your email has been sold to a bunch of lists over and over so you really need a kind of "block this forever" kind of functionality. But how famous are most email addresses?

In general, sure, a cool, sleek new looking UI for email, I like it!

The UI is cool, but this really should be client software, not a service.

I'd rather keep my current mail host — half the price, unlimited domains/mailboxes/storage (instead the limit is on the number of outgoing mails per day), based in Switzerland instead of the USA.

Looks great! Seems like it would make for a lovely email client as opposed to a new closed provider.

I wonder if they’re concerned about gmail absorbing their features sorta like they did for Inbox by Google.The key features seem to be inbox organization, slick GUI and a whitelist.

Honestly, the only thing I like from this is the tracker blocking and no automatic footers/signatures.

But how well do they support plain-text only emails? I've been moving more and more to plain-text as my default setting for sending emails and it's pretty liberating. I'm also starting to read emails as plain-text first before switching to an HTML content-type, but that's more painful.

While I am looking forward to their upcoming new service, you can't call it "to start a rebellion" when your protocol/approach is closed: To use Hey! you need to use the web client or their own apps.

If other providers would follow that rebellion, we would have many many additional walled gardens.

It's almost like it isn't a rebellion and that this is just an advertisement.


The other day the folks at Slack were accusing Microsoft of using Teams to keep people using email and "locking users" into Outlook and the rest of Office.

Slack of course is not at all open.

I use the combo of Fastmail and EM Client (Desktop), many people think these are pricy, but the quality of the service and product are quantitatively different from Gmail because I am the customer, not somebody else.

If the Euro zone really wants to do something in the IT space they should push Apple Messenger, Facebook Messenger and Slack and the five chat applications that Google runs and Skype to interoperate.

> you can't call it "to start a rebellion" when your protocol/approach is closed

Why not? Those seem like mutually exclusive issues to me. I get that you might like their rebellion to be open, but nothing mandates it.

>Most of the Basecamp team's recent rebelliousness, and seemingly the initial reason for building Hey, has to do with spy pixels.

How can you tell the difference between a "spy pixel" and an image? Whatever criteria you use can be worked around.

Email clients should not allow emails to initiate outgoing network connections... period ... and most of the good ones don't by default.

So do we go back to a world of completely plain-text emails? No buttons? Links buried in a wall of ASCII?

We use SendGrid to fire important, user-anticipated emails (i.e. "the Zoom class you paid for is starting at 8:30 AM, here's the private link").

Blocking all images is insane, and would set back email UX to the BBS ages. Blocking all SendGrid-served images would simply mean people host images on their own domain (or disguise the DNS), and could write their own open/click tracking systems, which would negate the point of blocking SG pixels in the first place.

> set back email UX to the BBS ages

I don't understand why that's bad or why e-mail needs an "UX" beyond being text. E-mail is there to convey information and text is the most efficient way to do it. If images are really important, you can include them as attachments and they'll be displayed even with remote content blocked.

Fastmail blocks loading of images by default. I have never needed to load the images to get whatever I need from the email. And if I need to I can click a button to load them if I trust the sender.

You can after all just include the images with the email using something like a CID URL.

... and a link that a user has to explicitly click on is not a 10th as bad as any sort of process out of their control.

If I were to guess, I'd say the same way adblockers work on browsers: blacklisting domains. Sendgrid was given as an example. They could also block using image size (1px) or location (end of message body).

That being said, I see your point. It's a game of Whack-a-Mole. What's to stop businesses from setting up a cname record on their domain to Sendgrid, for example?

The next whack-a-mole move, inspect CNAMEs to see if they reference blocklisted domains

All of the suggestions in this thread are good, but there are others. I spent a couple years working on this at messagecontrol.com to build an enterprise email tracker blocker, and I'm sure they have continued to enhance it since I left.

I think the difference would be an image loaded remotely vs. an image inlined into the email as an attachment? But I'm not well-versed in how images are handled in HTML emails.

Seems like a simple correlation of size of the image vs. length of the url. Small images with long urls are suspect. Not sure what the work around would be.

Edit: Also white/invisible pixels. Maybe number of visible/non-white pixels vs. url length.

How do you know image size and percentage of white or transparent pixels without loading the image?

To be fair, if this happens server-side then they can just preload all remote content at delivery time, negating the privacy impact of trackers because the only data they'll get is the IP/user agent of the email server.

Jason Fried in the demo says that they do precisely this – they act as a proxy.

Strip all params, hope for the best?

I guess the "spy pixel" image URLs would all be unique, so by comparing the mail that was sent to different recipients you could reveal which were trackers and which were not. No idea if that's what they're doing.

OMG, "The Screener" is something I've always wanted. There's a lot to love about this.

Something I am nervous about is using a @hey.com email. Similarly to domain, it's a world-visible and sticky, but unlike domains, it isn't portable, the only options are: pay Basecamp forever, or lose access. gulp

Per the FAQ: if you paid for at least a year, you can then cancel and have your @hey.com forward all emails to another address of your choosing, forever.

Hey is a great option for someone wanting to start over with email, but the key feature is not available just yet: Custom domains.

The best thing you can do is separate your email address from the client — and own that address.

I trust Basecamp, but always a good idea to own your name online.

$99/yr for email is steep, but I understand that most people don't want to bother setting this stuff up and have no qualms paying for it, especially at a price point that is only slightly above G Suite.

Agreed, $99/year may seem reasonable for all the features and principles but for most users on Gmail and Outlook, it's a steep entry fee. Probably intentional for initial launch so that mostly power users try it out.

I think a different approach would've made it $49/year and have additional features as add-ons. That way users can opt in and only pay for things that they want. Also gives the dev team signals on what features are most desired.

I admire rethinking tools like this, but I think that in practice most people are better off not having a preordained organizational system built into how they interact with their email. For novices I'm sure it's useful but if you are tech-literate you probably prefer something that gets out of your way and lets you systematize according to your own mental model.

If you're a gmail user and you haven't found something like this yet, you owe it to yourself to give this a shot:


I've been using https://www.kiwiforgmail.com/ and really like it.

I liked what I saw but would hugely favor an on-premises service or even better, a client which could properly do this stuff over IMAP and maybe syncs the things like notes over WebDAV.

Looks great, but the $99/year price doesn't exactly scream "email rebellion".

If it's down to the user to determine what they do with their incoming mail, then they will just want what they are used to surely? Doesn't that mean that every user is going to have to optimise their workflow? Probably those who do that kind of thing already have a couple of dozen message filters set up. Is this a SaaS solution to a problem best served by user training and company policy?

I like to have the same UI for all of my email accounts and the idea of yet another email address that is tied to a very unique workflow seems undesirable to me.

This could have been interesting if I could use it with arbitrary IMAP/SMTP accounts, but I have no idea how well their additional features could be mapped back to ordinary IMAP folders.

Prescreeners are a terrible idea.

I’ve been bitten by prescreening email resulting in missing tons of email because they were being funneled elsewhere.

Most of the features are borderline useless and will result in an inadequate email experience.

Good luck to Hey, I’m sure they can funnel their Basecamp users to adopt it though.

Hey.com actually has too many features for my personal taste. Not that I think the Unix philosophy is applicable everywhere, but this goes in the opposite direction entirely. The cumulative learning curve for all these features seems steep.

We've had forty years for people to build features like this on top of IMAP, and nobody has done so. This would seem to be a decent indication that the Unix philosophy is not going to produce much innovation in this market.

Kolab did.

I’ve used HEY for a few months in private beta, and it took me like a day to get used to things. Not as high of a learning curve as you’d think.

Looks very useful, I just hope that they make the interface more neutral and less toy-like (pill shapes, extreme round corners and saturated colors), or have a way to customize the variables that are responsible for this.

Possibly OT, but dropping email and going exclusively with dialtone/messaging for communications would be a breath of fresh air vs cat-n-mousing around the global spam issue (being under 24/7 attack/abuse is absurd).

It may take reengineering some models/processes, but good business only requires good communications (simplicity is the ultimate sophistication).

One-size-fits-all (email in this case) is rarely a solution in the 1st world, but you don't have to tell a nerd that... They disproved [that] theory long ago :)

“Messaging” isn’t inherently free of abuse. What make e-mail so abusable is its distribution.

Closed gardens will always be safer from abuse than open protocols. So what you’re really arguing for is that we drop email in favor of something more closed.

Removing 99% of the spam/threats/exploitation/whoring shouldn't be so easy.

Again, one-size-fits-all is always black and white (ala open garden/closed garden), but communications is the fundamental concern being addressed, not feelings/bias.

How do you handle things like ordering things online that usually requires a email address?

By not using an email address (dialtone is a medium unto itself, just as much as snailmail, in-person, messaging and video links are and would require different security protocols).

I grew up reading Nerd Vittles (lurker shoutout to Ward) and think dialtone is sexy, but the digital version of "don't call me, I'll call you" will most likely not include email (or inbound messaging).

{Sidenote: I also worked in deploying cable broadband around Y2K and taking a small percentage of the phone companies business was a big chunk at the time. The dialtone wars will not stop at LTE, but should find a new avenue with SAT dialtone. Its going to be another big chunk (no citation).}


This is not an email client, but an end-to-end service with clients controlling everything. That’s an immediate no for me. I have multiple email domains hosted by different providers (including myself), they can’t be merged, and I’m not gonna let a single company (Big Tech or not) cannibalize everything anyway. I’m also not gonna use different clients for different domains on each platform (unless work mandates something, in which case I’ll single out work).

Oh, and they don’t support custom domains at the moment.

Some features seem nice though.

I think the most exciting thing about HEY is the promise of a new way to build web applications.


Does anyone know anything more about this (more than what is in the tweet thread that is, which is not much!)

I dont think DHH has revealed much yet. But he said most of it will be extracted for Rails 6.2

I am wondering if it is similar to live view or Stimulus Reflex.

I was really excited about this, but it seems to be no more revolutionary than Inbox by Gmail.

I switched to https://mailinabox.email a while back and really loving it. You rely on using a mail client rather than a webapp, but I’ve enjoyed having the control.

I thought MIAB provided a web client as well?

It does, that's the only way I've used it. It's no Gmail but it's tolerable.

> It costs $99 a year, and its business proposition is simple: You can pay Google with your privacy or Basecamp with your money

Um... Tutanota and Protonmail are both privacy-conscious and cheaper than that.

Features look quite promising, but I'm not able to find any details on their site about using your own domain? Probably the only reason I wouldn't ditch my personal Gsuite.

Not at launch, but coming.

I wonder how much did they pay for the domain. Anyone has a guess?

A lot. Although they do not say how much.


Looks like a good product. Its an interesting test of how much people value privacy, I'd imagine 99.9% of people would rather be tracked and have ads than pay for email.

I consider it a significant failing that we (in the US) don't have a public email system like the USPS.

It is such a fundamental and important form of communication.

While I am excited at the possibility of ditching Gmail, one of the main things I am most excited about is that DHH has been hinting at a lot of new tech to come out of this including what he mentioned as the simplicity of Rails for the front end world.

I've tried taking a look through the sourcemaps for app.hey.com to get a feel for how that might be working and saw some interesting stuff in there around HTTP/2 frames and their Turbolinks approach but am going to have to wait until someone more competent is able to spell it out for me.

Used Basecamp in school - it seemed pretty cool/well-designed but it wasn't really useful for me

I don't like their claims regarding removing tracking pixels. They still show the images, and the sender still knows I'm opening them, the only thing missing is my IP. Unless it is spam, the newsletter I signed up to usually has way more info than they'd get out of a single HTTP GET.

To launch something with typos everywhere is pretty bad...

http://itsnotatypo.com (yes, they registered that domain)

Some of them are on purpose, like "Imbox".

The idea they're pushing about email is that it is a chore, filled with spam and todo-lists etc. But as a fastmail user, I don't really see how they're solving these issues.

HEY has less features for a higher price. Fastmail is fast, works great across devices, works with IMAP and I already have all my domains setup with it.

I thought they would've implemented some kind of new feature solve the problems they outline but without having tried the product it seems like it is just another more expensive email provider?

This is all fine though, I just got confused by the PR speak. I really look up to DHH otherwise and am really into the idea of remote working etc. I am just probably not one of the people they're marketing towards since I already pay for email.

So it doesn't download tracking pixels. But my email client doesn't, either. Furthermore I read only plain-text email 99.9% of the time. What's the use case exactly?

For people who doesn’t have the time/skills/energy to do what you described but still want to avoid being tracked, somewhat care about privacy and using email with less distractions.

Energy of not using a webmail? IIRC Thunderbird as well as most other email clients don't download remote images by default.

Dude, don't assume that everybody is like you. Reading emails on text mode and blocking pixels with some kind of email client is something that only a few people that use email do.

You're probably tech-savvy (and also the people that you interact with probably are), that eliminates almost the majority of people that use email. The average web/internet user is dumb, really dumb. The easier for them to do something, the better.

most people I know don't even bother downloading an email client and these range from a lot of office professionals to professors to students.

a lot of people just don't bother setting up their email settings to block image downloads or read in text only or etc

The time to ditch gmail finally. This is the ddg of email.

Absolutely, except the ddg of email would be written by one person.

I am fully behind something like this, and more than happy to pay for an email service that will stop all the "new-age spam".

But! "Want an invite? To get a code, email iwant@hey.com and tell us how you feel"

Seriously? A Gmail trick? By playing this trick, you just destroyed all your credibility.

They will go invite-free next month

It's not a matter of time, but about their mentality. Playing old Google tricks make them lose all good faith.

The email provider approach is confusing. Superhuman costs way less and works with Gmail. No need to change email provider.

$30/mo vs $99/year, are you seeing something I'm not?

I think Superhuman is 3x the cost of Hey.

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