A difficult day

It’s with mixed emotion I’m here to say that we will be closing down Newsberry on January 2, 2012. As many of you know, this was the first product that we built at Wildbit. That was over seven years ago, when we were mainly a consulting firm, and had a need for email marketing for many of our clients. As most products are born, there was a pain point in a large number of companies and we set out to solve it. Back then there weren’t a lot of options (compared to today!) and we built Newsberry. Our goal was to keep it simple, nice looking and easy to use. We wanted to help marketers get in and out quickly, with pretty but simple templates that would render everywhere. And of course, get those emails to the Inbox with high deliverability rates.

Overall I would say that we accomplished that goal. We built a complicated system that was simple to use for our customers. It brought in some revenue and maintained profits year after year. At the same time we learned some important lessons that helped us become the company we are today.

Newsberry was our first attempt at becoming a product company while trying to maintain consulting contracts. We treated it like a side project with potential, instead of a service that was a big part of the future of our company. When we started Beanstalk, we knew that to make it successful it needed dedicated attention.

We also learned that our team and passion is aligned better for a certain audience, designers and developers. For years we tried new features, new strategies and even focused on different segments to grow Newsberry, but it never worked. What we realized is that we didn’t lack the ability, we lacked the connection to our customers. This became most apparent to me after Beanstalk started to grow. I noticed that as a team we used Beanstalk every day and immersed ourselves in the product and subject, which helped us come up with new ideas and connect with customers better. With Newsberry on the other hand, I would get a perspective every couple of months when we decided to send a newsletter. The rest of the team hardly even used it. There is nothing more important than using your own products.

The biggest lesson I learned is that you need to know when to shut it down. In hindsight we should have done it a long time ago. Nothing is more important than focus and it was clear that Beanstalk and Postmark were growing like crazy while Newsberry remained idle.

With that said, the technology and domain experience we learned from Newsberry helped us create Postmark. The difference is that we solved our own problem and focused on an audience who we already knew. The growth of Postmark is proof of how important that is.

Partnering with Campaign Monitor

One of the reasons why it took so long to make this decision is that we did not want to leave our customers stranded. We decided that we needed a strong partner in email marketing to migrate our customers. At the same time, we have a strong rule in Postmark that we only focus on transactional email. This has allowed us to stay focused and has had a tremendous impact on our inbox delivery rates. With this focus, it meant that we also need a strong partner for integration when it comes to email marketing and bulk sending. The company who we have admired most over the years is Campaign Monitor. They run their company with similar intentions and focus, realize that design comes first and have been an inspiration to us in many ways.

I decided to reach out to Dave Greiner and he welcomed the idea. They have provided a generous offer to existing Newsberry customers to make the transition easier, and we will be building integrations together, allowing each of us to focus on what we know best. We’ll handle your transactional emails, and they’ll send the newsletters.

We have stopped accepting new customers for a week now, and officially updated our landing site to reflect this. Existing customers can gradually move over in the next two months, and both teams will be here to help. While I’m saddened to lose our first product, I’m extremely proud of the years it’s served as a valuable service. It was a long journey to get to this decision, but we’re confident it’s the best for our team and our customers. They deserve the best tool out there, and Newsberry has not fit those needs recently.

If anyone has any questions feel free to post a comment or email me directly at cn@wildbit.com.

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