The largest email-based RSS service was sold to NBC Universal this week, an event that's curiously absent from the tech press. Randy Charles Morin's R-Mail was purchased by the entertainment network for an undisclosed amount.
The service has 50,000 users, 100,000 subscriptions and sends out more than 50,000 e-mails per day, according to DMW Daily, though I suspect a zero's missing from the last figure. When I wrote about R-Mail last August, it had 20,000 users.
R-Mail makes it possible to receive web site updates by email for any site that offers an RSS or Atom feed. I didn't realize that reading feeds by mail was so popular until I offered subscriptions to users of the Drudge Retort. Within a few weeks, more than 600 people were getting each news update from the site in e-mail.
Morin, a member of the RSS Advisory Board and a longtime advocate of RSS, began R-Mail as a personal project to suit his own needs. He turned it pro when the site grew by 15,000 users over a 90-day period in 2006.
Normally, you'd expect an RSS startup that attracted more than 45,000 new users in a year to get the attention of TechCrunch and the other sites that obsess over Web 2.0. But while Michael Arrington was wishing for somebody to launch a blog-to-email startup and covering the launch and fire sale of a small RSS-email service called Zookoda, he completely missed the one that grew into a successful business.
"Morin, a member of the RSS Advisory Board ... Normally, you'd expect an RSS startup ..."
Are you implying cause and effect there? 1/2 :-)
BTW, the RSS Advisory Board site is now in the high 50's in terms of position for a Google search on "RSS".
RSS-to-email... sold to NBC.
H-m-m... Let me think...
RSS to Direct Mail/Junk Mail?
RSS to Newspaper insert?
RSS to Magazine?
RSS to Audio CD?
RSS to Cd Rom (monthly service for off-line researchers)?
Is re-purposing implicit in anyone having an RSS feed? Has NBC bought a
YouTube like property that's now open to legal action because they have deep pockets?
Are you implying cause and effect there?
I don't know why Arrington missed this story (and continues to miss it). Whether it's accidental or intentional, it makes TechCrunch look bush league. Is he covering Web 2.0, or just the subset of Web 2.0 that attends his conferences, buys his ads, and gladhands him at other events?
I think you answered yourself there.
He may have missed a successful business, but I would point out that Zookoda represents a service with more potential IMHO, as I see it as an emerging service for any kind of bulk emailing need, not just reading blog posts via email. Maybe nobody sees the extra value above and beyond recurring email from feeds (i.e. you can send one time emails via Zookoda that have no feed source), or the flexible templating features they provide, but it's the only free service I know of in this space that has stretched beyond the Blogosphere. It just needs a solid strategy to take it to the next level.
I don't know what's going on with Zookoda anymore, but I'm a lot more interested to see what happens with it than with R-Mail.
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