WiseStamp Puts a More Personal Signature on E-mail

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bring more attention to the things that are meaningful to them. “If I’m a blogger, if I’m a seller on eBay, one of the biggest pains I have is how to bring more exposure to my content,” Avnery says. “Or it might be supporting the Red Cross or Katrina victims in New Orleans. Hello? You’re sending a million e-mails a day, did you never think of utilizing them for what you care about?”

WiseStamp’s plugins work with the Firefox, Chrome, Flock, and Safari browsers, as well as the Thunderbird e-mail client, and they can insert custom signatures into the Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, and Hotmail web-based mail systems. On August 31, the same day it launched e-mail apps, the company passed one million installations of its plugins.

For now, the bootstrapped startup’s service is completely free. But eventually, Avnery says, the company will introduce “premium packs” that might include features like analytics data on the click-through rates for eBay listings or other links contained in e-mails. The company might also offer its plugins to corporations, who could attach uniform marketing messages to the signature lines of all of their employees. And it could make money on affiliate commissions for iTunes songs, Amazon books, or other goods that people discover by clicking on WiseStamp signatures.

Of course, e-mail platforms are evolving fast. Google and other providers keep rolling out new features such as instant voice-over-Internet connections, and there’s even speculation that Web-based e-mail platforms like Gmail could evolve into the nerve centers of our social media lives. Where does that leave a small plugin maker like WiseStamp?

“Everyone understands that e-mail is going to change, and is changing already,” says Avnery. “That’s not a threat, it’s why WiseStamp has an opportunity. We take part of the user’s identity and we get approval from the user to make it part of every e-mail he sends. That’s something that not even a platform as large as Gmail gets license to do.”

In fact, the personal investment that WiseStamp users have in their signatures is exactly what might eventually make the startup attractive to Google, Microsoft, or Yahoo as an acquisition candidate, Avnery says.

But first things first—right now the company is focusing on creating more e-mail apps, expanding to new platforms such as Outlook, and devising a customized e-mail signature solution for iPhones, Android devices, and other smartphones, where more and more people compose their e-mails. Avnery says the R&D half of the team is about to head back to Israel, where it’s easier and cheaper to recruit programming talent, while the sales and business development teams will stay around the Bay Area.

Closing its first seed funding round is the company’s other big priority. It’s raising half a million dollars, and already has a “significant amount” secured from investors in both Israel and Silicon Valley, including Poler, Avnery says.

Avnery closed our interview the way he closes his e-mails—with a gentle pitch. “There are still openings in the round,” he said. “If you want to become part of a fantastic team that has a lot of fun and be part of innovation in the making, then you are probably the right person to invest in our team.”

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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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