Pradip Khakhar Product Manager and Founder - The Product Angle

Hey – Is the new email service from Basecamp worth the hype?

10 min read

Hey 👋 no I mean HEY is the new email service from the Basecamp team. In this article we take a closer take look at Hey and answer the question: Hey – Is the new email service from Basecamp worth the hype?

Introducing Hey

Hey the new email service from Basecamp

Hey – Is the new email service from Basecamp worth the hype?

What is your relationship with email?
What is HEY?
How HEY works?
How much does it cost?
Onboarding into HEY
Demo of HEY
Thoughts
Questions
HEY vs. Apple
Interesting tweets
Hey – Is the new email service from Basecamp worth the hype?


What is your relationship with email?

Do you remember your first email address? Way back when dial-up was a thing. My first email address was a Freeserve (I think) email. My memory is a little hazy. However, I needed Freeserve to access the internet and it came with an email address.

Later I changed my email to an AOL address and kept that for many years, even after Gmail became the standard. However, I finally gave in and jumped to Gmail when I was spending more time cleaning my spam emails than actually reading emails.

Changing email addresses takes a lot of work. Exporting, saving, or forwarding while modern tools have made it easier. However, you still need to spend some time in the process.

Also, shout out and credit to Ziyad who helped source an invite through James Hill-Khurana who kindly shared 1 of his invites with me to write this article now. 🙏


What is Hey?

What’s interesting here is that HEY is not an email client. That’s why HEY isn’t an app that sits on top of Gmail, Outlook, iCloud, Yahoo, etc. HEY is a full email service provider. You don’t use HEY to check your Gmail account, you use HEY to check your HEY account. It’s its own platform, and it’s all you’ll need.

Currently, invite codes are required until their public launch in July 2020. To get a code, email iwant@hey.com and tell us how you feel about email. It could be a love story or a hate story. It could be long, could be short. It’s your story, so it’s up to you.

Email, in my opinion, is a very boring product. Somewhat functional if you will. Will HEY change that?

The last time anyone got excited about email was when Google launched Gmail back around 2005. Over 15 years ago, we’ve adapted to doing email in the status quo Gmail and Outlook way. Therefore, we have not seen any exciting developments recently.

However, if you are a Superhuman user, you might disagree. I’m not a Superhuman user, for me, I don’t have a big enough email problem that I need to spend $30 a month on. Although, some people I’ve spoken to love the Superhuman experience.

Back to Hey.

95,000 people signed up to be on a waitlist

As per the CEO of HEY Jason, the waitlist for Hey passed 95,000 people. Clearly, email is a problem people are interested in exploring to solve.

To be on the waitlist you need to email hey@hey.com and tell them what email means to you. So this was not a box where you type in your email and hit submit. A little more effort is needed.

Will HEY become the defacto standard in email going forward?

Only time will tell.

HEY is a completely redesigned rethink on email and this is clear from their love letter on the homepage of HEY.

Hey everyone—

It’s 2020, we need to talk about email.

Email gets a bad rap, but it shouldn’t. Email’s a treasure.

It feels great to get an email from someone you care about. Or a newsletter you enjoy. Or an update from a service you like. That’s how email used to feel all the time.

But things changed.

You started getting stuff you didn’t want from people you didn’t know. You lost control over who could reach you. An avalanche of automated emails cluttered everything up.

Read the full love letter to email on HEY’s homepage.


How HEY works?

Since HEY is a complete rethink on email it is very opinionated on how email *should* be. I don’t plan to go through all the features of HEY. If you’re interested in all the feature HEY has to offer read the Tour Features page on HEY’s site.

A few things that come to mind:

There is no INBOX

Well now it’s renamed to iMbox ok just Imbox

Hey the new email from Basecamp

The Imbox screener

Before emails can get to your Imbox they are screened. This means the first time someone sends an email they land in the screener. You then decide if you want to “accept” the email or not (note: HEY refers to this as “where you decide if you want to hear from them or not.”)

Click yes and you’ll continue receiving their emails. Click no and you’ll never hear from them again.

Hey new email from Basecamp

Privacy focused

Maybe I should have started here. In my opinion, this is the game-changer. Regardless of if you agree with it or not as more and more people adopt HEY you’ll likely start seeing more tweets of marketers using open tracking pixels.

The bigger question is does HEY have the chops to effectuate change or will marketers simply find ways around it?

hey new email from basecamp


Hey – Is the new email service from Basecamp worth the hype?


How much does it cost?

Currently as far as I know, HEY has three tiers:

  1. $99 per year for a username that has more than two characters e.g pradip@hey.com
  2. $349 per year for a username that has three characters e.g. pkh@hey.com
  3. $999 per year for a user that is two characters e.g. pk@hey.com

Which got me thinking what would p@hey.com cost? (or does HEY even allow a one character email address?).

Guess I’ll never know now that been onboarded onto the system. If you are someone just receiving your invite let me know on Twitter.

[Update: James informed me that single character emails do not seem to be supported, he tried.] 🙏


Onboarding into HEY


Demo of HEY

Not going to duplicate efforts here, and honestly Jason does a fantastic job here anyway.




Thoughts

I haven’t been excited about email for a long time. It’s a form of communication that allows me to communicate with people asynchronously.

Earlier this year when the founders started “picking twitter fights” it became entertainment, however, clearly, the intent was around releasing HEY. Am I a big fan of picking fights? no. Did it work? I think so. It created so much attention that when HEY was eventually released it seemed to create FOMO.

My timelines were filled with HEY content, it became the new flex. I become a part of it.

While I’m not a fan of FOMO techniques, I do not believe HEY is intended to be a private club. I don’t know Jason or David and I do not have any inside information. These are purely my views.

Anyone who creates software knows when something new is released onboarding new (and early) users is vital. If users love the experience they will share with others (as currently being shared on Twitter).

However, more importantly, the stuff the users don’t see. The hours, and months (or years) behind creating this product. If the platform was to crash, the user experience will stink. People will write and share this. The negativity that comes with it has the potential to kill the product even before it gets off the ground.

Jason and David have made it clear that HEY is not an exclusive club and all invites will go out by July and then HEY will be made publically available in July. That I can respect.

Using HEY

To be very clear here, I’ve only used HEY for two days and I feel excited about using email again. Will it last? time will tell.

A couple of things that I’m excited to try out include the Send massive files without using other apps, Add private “notes to self” to any email thread, combined with Stick it to an email (could this turn into a simple CRM, or maybe I’m overthinking it), and Bundle dominating senders into one line.

This rethink of email is exciting and I can’t wait to dig into it deeper.

For me, the bigger question is can I unlearn the current way of thinking with Gmail?

Meaning, I am attached to my calendar and important emails are filed out using labels that somewhat represent a folder.

Email is the gateway to productivity – the bigger strategy

Above I mentioned that “Email, in my opinion, is a very boring product. Somewhat functional” however, that doesn’t describe the bigger picture.

Gmail and Outlook have a productivity eco-system around email. Think about it, email has become central to *nearly* everything we do.

Email ties into a number of things we do; sharing files, creating documents, spreadsheets, slides, Single Sign-On, sending and receiving meeting invites. The list continues, saving important confirmation numbers, think about all the other apps that have access to your email.

Email facilitates communication and collaboration.

Email is a fantastic place to start a productivity ecosystem. I’m excited to see where the team takes this next. I agree with what Hiten said:

What is the Hey Postal Service?

Though I am very curious as to what Hey Postal Service is.

Hey - new email from Basecamp

Can’t help but think about Slack

I can’t help but think about Slack right now. Slack at one point in time marketed itself as the email killer. HEY is clearly marketing email as a “treasure.”

Under the current iteration, HEY feels very much comparable to Slack, yet its positioned as email. I know it’s email with the Basecamp flavor.

For some reason which I cannot pinpoint exactly. Maybe I’m thinking of Campfire. In 2006, we [Basecamp] built Campfire to help businesses communicate better. It’s a simple, real-time web-based group chat tool that lets people set up password-protected chat rooms super quickly. Source Basecamp product history.

Could Campfire have become a billion-dollar business?

Was it a missed opportunity?

When I use HEY (for the limited two day’s I’ve been using it), my mind wonders into the Slack territory. It might be because I am customed to thinking email and a calendar go together.

Is it time to change that thinking?

2FA

If you choose to pay the $99 (or whichever tier you choose based on the number of characters in your email) after successful payment you’ll be taken to a page to set up 2FA. Nice touch. I’d be interested in learning how HEY has implemented this feature.


Questions

A few of questions come to mind that I don’t quite know how to address.

Where’s the calendar?

I’m a calendar person. Right now I live and die by the calendar. HEY doesn’t have a calendar. How can I change my workflow or do I need to use a separate calendar app. It totally makes sense if I was using Basecamp as I believe it has some calendar features.

What is the impact on my newsletter?

As someone who has a small but growing newsletter, open rates have never been something I focus on. I’m more interested in people replying to my emails and conversations.

I use Mailchimp for my newsletter and every now and again I look at what stats are available in Mailchimp and one of the stats or options I have is the ability to trim the “inactive” readers. I am not a newsletter/ Mailchimp expert, however, from what I understand this is calculated using open rates. How will this feature work going forward?

As I mentioned earlier, I have no interest in the open rates, however, will I end up paying for contacts in my newsletter list that don’t actually open my emails and continue to receive my emails. Will this drive them to flag it as spam in Gmail?

Or will this impact my deliverability and my ability to land in the inbox or Imbox?

Newsletter advertising?

I don’t advertise on my newsletter however, many other people do. In a telegram group Paul Metcalfe and I are a part of. He discusses the above impact on his newsletter and also added advertisers want to estimate ROI based on how many people are going to see the ad and track conversions on who did see the ad (impressions > click > conversions).

Paul totally understands that people who receive emails might not want to be tracked so maybe it’s something newsletter owners need to be proactive about and find solutions to.

What’s on the roadmap?

While I did not find an “official” roadmap, I believe that custom domains are on their roadmap. Meaning in addition to sending an email from say pradip@hey.com you’ll also be able to send emails from something like pradip@theproductangle.com. I’m going to go on a limb here and say that to add a custom domain you are looking at additional costs.

Integration with Basecamp?

I’d love to see a deeper integration with Basecamp. I used Basecamp in the early days, however, when pricing moved to $99 per month. A fantastic deal for a small team, however, for just one person it was overkill. I recently tried Basecamp again as they launched a free tier. I really like basecamp.

Basecamp even has a “Hey” section in the header. Could we see a deeper integration? Could Basecamp and Hey be the *only* tools you need?

Hey - Is Hey worth it?


HEY vs. Apple

Upfront disclosure here, I’ve yet to download the HEY IOS app. I’m currently using an iPhone 8 Plus, it does the job and I’m running IOS version 12.1.2. The HEY IOS app requires IOS 13 and above.

Do I upgrade and risk slowing my iPhone down? Still thinking about it.

Hey New email from Basecamp

Recently Apple took issue with the HEY IOS app under its guidelines “Apple’s App Store policy, 3.1.1”. I don’t plan to go into it this issue in this article as its not the intent when I started writing this piece (and to be honest I have not had the time to follow the story).

However, it does deserve a mention and I hope both HEY and Apple can put this past them and do what’s right for users and customers.

Read Jason’s statement HEY CEO’s [Jason Fried] take on Apple’s App Store payment policies, and their impact on our relationship with our customers


Hey – Is the new email service from Basecamp worth the hype?


Interesting tweets

How many people will actually pay $99?

This will be one of the biggest questions.

Marketers thinking how to adjust

Hey – Is the new email service from Basecamp worth the hype?

From a product perspective, I am inspired by the way the team has rethought the email space. Full credit to Jason, David, and the rest of the team. If anyone has any connections to Jason or David, I would love to chat with them behind the HEY thinking on The Product Angle Show.

For me, the biggest plus point is the rethink of how we should be using our emails. Last year I had over 50K emails in my inbox and I used Leave Me Alone to unsubscribe from unwanted emails and then deleted most of the emails. I figured if it’s important the issue will surface back up.

At the time of releasing this, I’ve only used HEY for two days. Two days is not sufficient to fully make a decision as I’ve not had a chance to use all their features.

Would I pay $99 to keep my pradip@hey.com email? I’m very tempted, I have a great deal of respect for the team and I really want it to succeed. I’d love to follow along the journey at least from the perspective of a customer.

Right now I still have 12 days to decide.

Would I use it as my daily driver? It’s too early to tell right now. I would miss my calendar I have to research and read a little more on how the team intends to fill this void. (maybe a deeper integration with Basecamp? or an upcoming productivity suite?)

Question for you?

What are your thoughts on HEY? Is this something you’d pay for and keep? Let me know in the comments below. Or feel free to send me an email pradip@hey.com


Pradip Khakhar is a Product Coach and the founder of The Product Angle.

Pradip focuses on helping product people communicate, negotiate, and evangelize effectively while building trust and confidence in cross-functional teams.

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Pradip Khakhar Product Manager and Founder - The Product Angle

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