Fastmail 2019: Our CEO, Bron Gondwana, on Fastmail today
In our final blog post for the year, Fastmail’s CEO reflects on our achievements during this 20th year of the company, and looks forward to the future. In his (not so) secret shadow role as Fastmail’s CMO (chief meme officer) and experienced dad-joke wrangler, Bron brings his signature style.
A 20th year refresh
We spent a lot of effort this year looking deeply at who we are, who our customers are, and how we tell our story.
You can see this reflected in our new logo, colour scheme, and marketing - highlighting the personal touch. Our service has always focused on enabling connection between people, and respecting your time. FastMail became Fastmail to match how we saw others writing our name. We redesigned our settings screens with the same goal - to help new users get set up fast, and to allow experienced users to quickly change the settings they need, then get back on task.
Of course our new Fastmail logo is also designed to fit well alongside the logo of our other product: Topicbox, the electronic memory for your team. Where the Fastmail product is designed for individuals to communicate and hold their own electronic memory, Topicbox expands that concept out to teams who may not all use Fastmail for their email.
Having a central location lets teams keep their memory in one easily searchable place, with the same thoughtful interface and quick access to the information they need. As with many organisations, we use Slack for our real-time connection and use Topicbox as our long term memory. This year we wrote about how to get the best out of both immediate and permanent communication tools over on our Topicbox blog.
Powerful new features
We know that our customers are accessing their email more frequently, or even primarily, from pocket-sized devices. Some people (including many of our staff) have both work and personal accounts, so you can now have multiple users logged in to our app.
We also help you see email at the time you want, with the long awaited snooze feature.
And of course we all make mistakes, so this was also the year that we added support for undo send. Amusingly enough (looking back on it now), some things were missed when testing this feature and it caused annoying bugs at rollout, with emails being put into the wrong outbound queue so they weren’t authenticated properly. We wished we had an “undo announce feature” button while we scrambled to fix issues in those first few hours!
Enabled by open standards
Many of the great features above were either directly enabled by, or made much easier by, our favourite open standard: JMAP. We’re really proud of our work - and our technical staff continue to be delighted with how easy it is to build on top of JMAP-based APIs.
Of course, the work isn’t done yet! The JMAP working group at IETF recently rechartered to cover both Calendars and Contacts as well, and we continue to work with the community on the open standards which power your Fastmail experience.
It’s not just open standards, we’re also significant contributors to open source software, particularly the Cyrus IMAPd server, where we build the reference implementation of all our JMAP work.
Supporting our community
All members of our executive team are strongly active in our communities.
I’m a chair on three separate working groups at the IETF as well as acting as a liaison between CalConnect (who we hosted in October) and the IETF. I also love to talk, appearing on the Techtonic podcast recently.
Helen, our COO, was nominated for the RAD awards as one of Philadelphia's best entrepreneurs of the year.
Our CTO, Rik, was recently recognised as one of the most influential technologists in Philadelphia. Rik is also deeply involved in the community for the Perl programming language - a language which we use and are proud to sponsor.
And Nicola, our Chief of Staff, loves talking almost as much as I do. She has spoken at multiple conferences and meetups this year about all things privacy, ethics and standards: most recently at YOW! CTO Summit. Nicola also takes on much of the organisation for CTO School Melbourne, which we sponsor as part of our contribution to our local tech scene.
Many other Fastmail staff have presented at conferences and meetups throughout the year, and will continue to in the future. We love engaging with the world and sharing our experience. If you're at the privacy-themed Linux Conference Australia in January 2020, some of our team will see you there. They'll be loaded with stickers!
What a coincidence, our 20th anniversary year ends as we go into a year with even more 20s in the name. I’m sure that was the most important consideration when Rob and Jeremy decided they wanted an email service for the busy professional back in 1999!
And now it's time to farewell one of the world's favourite numerical puns:
Goodbye old friend.
Ever since I was a small child I remember seeing organisations talking about their long term plans as their “2020 vision”. No longer! It is the end of having “2020 vision” about the future.
Seriously though, I can see a little way into the future. For sure the highly anticipated “Dark Mode” will be arriving soon to protect those tired eyes, and we’ll be continuing to deliver productivity enhancements to make your email experience smoother and more efficient, surfacing the information you need, when you need it.
Last year we stopped sending newsletters with GDPR concerns. This year we built a system to create per-user non-identifiable aliases for our users, and we recently used it to send a newsletter to customers who requested them through their settings. You can also read the newsletter online. One of the things we asked in this newsletter was for feedback on what our customers love about our service. We've already received tons of useful feedback, which will help us prioritise the things that our customers love, and inform our future development plans.
Thanks for reading, and thanks as always for using Fastmail!
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