WiseStamp Puts a More Personal Signature on E-mail

In ancient times, before the dawn of e-mail, there were people who would grab any old blank sheet of paper to write or type on, and there were people who would only use fancy letterhead paper embossed with their names or logos. People in the first group probably cared more about getting their message across than about dressing it up. People in the second group cared about their words too—but to them, every piece of correspondence was also opportunity to cement their personal or corporate brand.

Until recently, browser-based e-mail software didn’t allow for much of the second kind of personalization. You could create all-purpose electronic stationery by choosing a background or font color, and you could add a signature line, but nothing very fancy, and certainly nothing that included dynamic content linking to your social-medial life. But that’s starting to change.

Last week I met with Josh Avnery, the CEO of WiseStamp, which makes browser plugins that let users of all the major Web mail services punctuate their e-mail messages with much more than an address or a phone number. A WiseStamp signature can contain a photo of the sender, his most recent Twitter post, a link to an item he may be selling on eBay, the most recent Web page he shared on Digg or Delicious or StumbleUpon, the music he’s listening to on Pandora or Last.fm, or the PlanCast listing for the next event he’s attending. In other words, WiseStamp is taking the blank templates that our e-mail programs have been giving us for years and embossing them with all sorts of social-media goodness.

“The Web has been through such a major advancement over the past couple of years—people are much more active and social,” says Avnery. “But the common denominator is e-mail, and nothing happens there. It’s like it didn’t shift at all. One of our major goals is bridging this gap.”

WiseStamp, whose founding team members Avnery, Orly Izhaki, Sasha Gimelshtein, and Tom Piementa all hail from Israel, introduced the first version of its e-mail signature service—including pictures, text, links, and small badges linking to social-media profiles—in early 2009. That caught the attention of Silicon Valley angel investor Ariel Poler, who became an adviser and encouraged the company to spend some time in the Bay Area. The company won a berth for the summer at Dogpatch Labs, the Pier 38 venture incubator run by Polaris Venture Partners, and just completed its residency there last week.

WiseStamp sample e-mail signatureWiseStamp’s big summer project was creating a set of “e-mail apps” that add interactive, real-time features to the basic e-mail signatures, such as clickable eBay listings or tweets. It rolled out its app gallery on August 31. “With the e-mail apps, it’s stupid-proof,” says Avnery. “You just choose the app you want—say, StumbleUpon. You add your username. There’s no need for a password, since it’s public information. You click okay, you preview, it retrieves your latest stumble. And you’re done. Every e-mail you send becomes more meaningful.”

WiseStamp advertises the custom signatures as a way for users to … Next Page »

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Wade Roush is a freelance science and technology journalist and the producer and host of the podcast Soonish. Follow @soonishpodcast

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