Goodmail shutting down


Yesterday Goodmail sent out mail to all their customers announcing they are ceasing operations and taking all their token generators offline as of 5pm pacific on February 8th.
While this is a bit of a surprise on one level, I’m not that shocked. Ken Magill mentioned in August that Goodmail was on the sales block and rumors have been circulating for weeks about significant changes coming to Goodmail.
Goodmail has struggled to find a market since they first started. At one point they were even giving services away to customers at partner ESPs. Despite the free service, people at some of those ESPs told me they were having difficulty getting customers to adopt Goodmail.
Likewise, on the ISP side, Goodmail didn’t seem to have much penetration into the market. They had AOL, Yahoo and some cable companies, but not much else. And as of early last year, Yahoo removed the Goodmail machines.
I think the real underlying problem was that most companies who are doing things well don’t need certification services. Sure, there are a couple exceptions but in general anyone who is sending good mail is getting to the inbox. Even for companies where delivery was not quite as good as they might want, the marginal improvement at those ISPs that do use Goodmail was not sufficient to justify the cost of Goodmail services.
While I have the utmost respect for the Goodmail management team I think this result was almost inevitable. I never got the impression they valued the end recipient quite as much as the ISPs do. That was just one thing that lead me to believe they just didn’t seem to understand the email ecosystem quite the way that a certification service should.
I echo Dennis’ thoughts and well wishes towards the Goodmail folks. The experiment in sender financed delivery was well worth doing and I think they did it as well as anyone could have.

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  • “I think the real underlying problem was that most companies who are doing things well don’t need certification services. ”
    So, do you think similar services are also going to inevitably shut down over time?

  • Right now there are only 2 certifying companies left in the space: ISIPP and ReturnPath. Both of them have certification as part of their suite of products, not their sole product. I don’t see either of them going anywhere.

  • I was actually not surprised at all. I anticipated this when I saw goodmail was not working with yahoo anymore since yahoo has the biggest marketshare among webmail providers.
    While ReturnPath does offers a somehow similar program for getting in inbox at yahoo and hotmail ISIPP doesn’t do this so who knows … maybe ISIPP is next …

  • Another big difference that comes to mind between Goodmail and services like ReturnPath and ISIPP is that the latter can be implemented regardless of the sender’s choice of MTA software, and queried by pretty much any receiving system that finds it useful to do so, using standard DNSxL format.
    Perhaps the requirement of proprietary MTA plugins on the sending side, and dedicated MTAs on the receiving side played a role in Goodmail’s demise as well. You mentioned the practical obstacles in your 2007 article about Goodmail, and I’m wondering if those practicalities might have been as big a distinction between Goodmail and the others as the fact that the others also provide services other than whitelisting.
    Also, specifically with regards to transactional mail, which I got the impression (but could be mistaken on this) was a big chunk of Goodmail’s business, would the Spamhaus whitelist be a good alternative also? (Havent heard much on the SWL in while, hoping you have heard something recent)
    All that said, with regards to pgl’s comment on the eventual destiny of sender accreditation, I’ll be curious to see if the certification-specific offerings of organizations such as RP and ISIPP etc will eventually be overshadowed/replaced by those same organizations’ other programs, specifically the ones that try to help senders avoid, detect, and fix problematic mailing practices.

By laura

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