Kleiner Perkins bets on a premium email service that’s bringing Slack Groups into Gmail – gpgmail


While Slack is trying to kill email, a new email startup backed by Kleiner Perkins is trying to make corporate email more like Slack.

Consider is an email service for startups that balances some premium individual features with collaboration tools that it hopes will help them bring startups onboard.

The founders of Consider both met at Intercom as the 1st and 10th employees there. While at Intercom, CEO Ben McRedmond met Kleiner Perkins’ Mamood Hamid who was an early investor there. Hamid also wrote the first check for Consider before the founders even had a product to demo. That 2017 check combined with a more recent investment from Bedrock brings the total funding for the startup to $5 million.

As the product emerges from stealth, it’s also signaling a shift in its customer focus from individuals wanting an email experience that’s “calm and focused” to startup teams that are looking to keep more of their team’s collaboration happening inside email.

The central part of this strategy is the addition of a Slack-like Groups feature which allows people to join shared inboxes inside their company that people can forward messages to or cc on emails. The founders started the company with the idea that the inbox was essentially a list of to-dos, with this idea also extending to group-work, allowing engineers to amass bug reports and create a shared repository of emails with relevance to the whole group.

The startup says they aren’t actually trying to kill Slack or other synchronous chat tools but they want people to use email in a more collaborative way and part of that means categorizing the emails you receive and putting them in front of the right eyeballs. The fact is, the bulk of this functionality — though not all — is possible inside of stock Gmail with the right filters, but it’s all pretty messy and people will generally pay for an interface that is built to be effective.

The premium email service space has been gathering attention, most of that attention has been directed towards $30/month Superhuman, which was recently valued at $260 million.

Consider is charging $10 per user per month. They’re not discouraging individual users curious for a new inbox experience either, though without Groups there is less to differentiate the app. On an individual basis the app brings functionality focused on sorting emails and sending you batches of the ones it has deemed non-critical at certain times of the day so you aren’t being inundated with notifications.

The app is out of beta and live for sign-ups of Gmail users on Web, Mac, iOS and Android.


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Amazon customers say they received emails for other people’s orders – gpgmail


Users have said they are receiving emails from Amazon containing invoices and order updates on other customers, gpgmail has learned.

Jake Williams, founder of cybersecurity firm Rendition Infosec, raised the alarm after he received an email from Amazon addressed to another customer with their name, postal address, and their order details.

Williams said he ordered something months ago which recently became available for shipping. He checked the email headers to make sure it was a genuine message.

“I think they legitimately intended to email me a notification that my item was shipping early,” he said. “I just think they screwed something up in the system and sent the updates to the wrong people.”

He said the apparent security lapse was worrying because emails about orders sent to the wrong place is a “serious breach of trust” that can reveal private information about a customer’s life, such as sexual orientation, proclivities, or other personal information

Several other Amazon customers also said they received emails seemingly meant for other people.

“I made an order yesterday afternoon and received her email last night,” another customer who tweeted about the mishap told gpgmail. “Luckily I’m not a malicious person but that’s a huge security issue,” she said.

Another customer tweeted out about receiving an email meant for someone else. He said he spoke to Amazon customer service who said they will investigate additional security issues.

“Hope you didn’t send my sensitive account info to someone else,” he added.

And, one other customer posted a tweet thread about the issue, saying they spoke to a supervisor about the issue who gave a “nonchalant” response, she wrote. She said the supervisor said the issue happens frequently.

A spokesperson for Amazon did not return a request for comment when we asked how many customers were affected and if the company plans on informing customers of the breach. If we hear back, we’ll update.

It’s the second security lapse in a year. In November the company emailed customers saying a “technical error” had exposed an unknown number of their email addresses. When asked about specifics, the notoriously secretive company declined to comment further.




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Twilio launches SendGrid Ads and new cross-channel messaging API – gpgmail


At its annual Signal developer conference, Twilio today announced a couple of new features for developers on its core messaging platform and users of its recently acquired SendGrid email service. The new Twilio tools now allow developers to create multi-channel messaging tools and to get real-time streams of conversations in order to run them through transcription services, a translation tool or other machine learning models.

The company’s $3 billion acquisition of SendGrid closed less than half a year ago, so it doesn’t come as a surprise that Twilio would use its biggest event of the year to showcase the service to its developer community.

It’s a bit of an odd one, though. See, SendGrid already announced the beta of SendGrid Ads back in November 2018. As best as I can tell, Twilio SendGrid Ads, which is now launching in beta, is the same product, but a Twilio representative tells me that the ads product is now more deeply integrated into SendGrid Marketing Campaigns, and also got a bit of a redesign. A form of this integration already existed in the previous version, though.

The general idea here is to allow SendGrid users to run multichannel display ad campaigns on Facebook, Instagram and Google from their SendGrid accounts. The advantage of this, the company argues, is that marketers will be able to use data from their email campaigns and website data to then retarget users on other channels. Similarly, they can use lead ads on Facebook to get potential customers to sign up for their SendGrid mailing list.

SendGrid Ads will cost $50 per month, plus the cost of the ads. SendGrid will also take its own cut of 5% of any media cost over $500.

The new developer tools are pretty straightforward. Twilio Conversations, now in public beta, is a new API that allows developers to create solutions that integrate various messaging channels like SMS, WhatsApp and other chat tools.

“Over the last two decades, we’ve watched businesses evolve their communications with customers from the phone call, to website chat, to native mobile apps,” said Chee Chew, chief product officer at Twilio. “Leading companies have figured out that the next evolution of great customer experience is through messaging. Twilio Conversations empowers businesses to build personal, long-lived connections with their customers on the channels they prefer.”

Twilio Media Streams does exactly what it promises to do. Previously, you could get a recording to a call. Now, you can tap into the real-time call to analyze that stream in real time. That’s useful for all kinds of AI tools that aim to help call center agents, for example. This service is now also in public beta and will cost $0.004 per minute, in addition to the rest of the fees associated with the call.


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An exposed password let a hacker access internal Comodo files – gpgmail


A hacker gained access to internal files and documents owned by security company and SSL certificate issuer Comodo by using an email address and password mistakenly exposed on the internet.

The credentials were found in a public GitHub repository owned by a Comodo software developer. With the email address and password in hand, the hacker was able to log into the company’s Microsoft-hosted cloud services. The account was not protected with two-factor authentication.

Jelle Ursem, a Netherlands-based security researcher who found the credentials, contacted Comodo vice president Rajaswi Das by WhatsApp to secure the account. The password was revoked the following day.

Ursem told gpgmail that the account allowed him to access internal Comodo files and documents, including sales documents and spreadsheets in the company’s OneDrive — and the company’s organization graph on SharePoint, allowing him to see the team’s biographies, contact information including phone numbers and email addresses, photos, customer documents, calendar, and more.

A screenshot of a staff calendar on Comodo’s internal site. (Image: supplied)

He also shared several screenshots of folders containing agreements and contracts with several customers — with the names of customers in each filename, such as hospitals and U.S. state governments. Other documents appeared to be Comodo vulnerability reports. Ursem’s cursory review of the data did not turn up any customer certificates private keys, however.

“Seeing as they’re a security company and give out SSL certificates, you’d think that the security of their own environment would come first above all else,” said Ursem.

But according to Ursem, he wasn’t the first person to find the exposed email address and password.

“This account has already been hacked by somebody else, who has been sending out spam,” he told gpgmail. He shared a screenshot of a spam email sent out, purporting to offer tax refunds from the French finance ministry.

We reached out to Comodo for comment prior to publication. A spokesperson said the account was an “automated account used for marketing and transactional purposes,” adding: “The data accessed was not manipulated in any way and within hours of being notified by the researcher, the account was locked down.”

It’s the latest example of exposed corporate passwords found in public GitHub repositories, where developers store code online. All too often developers upload files inadvertently containing private credentials used for internal-only testing. Researchers like Ursem regularly scan repositories for passwords and report them to the companies, often in exchange for bug bounties.

Earlier this year Ursem found a similarly exposed set of internal Asus passwords on an employee’s GitHub public account. Uber was also breached in 2016 after hackers found internal credentials on GitHub.


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