Terrible Idea Punished with Death
Have you ever yearned: I love the physical junk mail I get, but is there any way I could have it intercepted, opened by strangers, scanned, and routed directly to my email inbox, so I don't have to touch paper? San Francisco startup Outbox thought it had the solution. Maybe it did. Now it is gone. Good.
Ever more rare than humility in the face of failure is failure itself: bad ideas are usually rewarded as unidentified innovation, not simply dumb. Outbox was one such smiled-upon inanity, having received millions of dollars in venture cash, and credulous headlines from tech press:
Outbox Pours Salt On Snail Mail By Launching Its Digitizing Service In San Francisco
Kiss your postal mailbox goodbye for $5 a month
The fact that people were spending real money and real human working hours to address the greatest non-problem of our time was an insult to anyone not ankle-deep in horse shit. Hardly ever did anyone ask: why not just go get your own mail? Oh well: now you can kiss Outbox goodbye, because the market for people who want mail mailed to their mailboxes is as slim as any sane person would've guessed:
We announce today that we are ending the mail service, shutting down the Outbox brand, and focusing our team and resources on a totally new product.
In the end, we serviced a little over 2,000 individual customers...
Maybe the "totally new product" will be something that addresses a "need" or "want" of some kind, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.