The Black Hole Of Email

I have never ever been so behind on email as I am right now. I believe I am seeing about one third of all email that is sent to me. If you have sent me an email that I haven't replied to, don't be offended. You are not alone. You are in the majority.

I write these posts occasionally to let people know. The result is hundreds of comments about how I can make email work better for me. Please don't leave those comments. I don't want to make email work better for me. I don't want to hire an assistant to do email for me. I don't want to try some new magical app that will make email better for me.

I give email an hour in the morning, an hour in the evening, and I dive into it throughout the day. The result is probably three hours a day in total. That's all I'm going to give email. And it is not enough to manage the inbound flow.

So I'll do what I can and I'm not going to do more. And if that means I will miss your email, then so be it. Please send it again. That will increase the chances I will see it.

#Random Posts

Comments (Archived):

  1. Brad Lindenberg

    Haha i feel the same way about email and I deal with email the same way. If its THAT important it will get to me somehow, eventually, maybe via a re-send or reminder or DM, or Facebook or SMS, whatsapp, or iMessage or Skype, or twitter, or phone call….It’s a liberating feeling not to obsess over email. I’d rather forget about email for 3 days and build a new feature, or do something that adds more value than sorting my inbox.

    1. Schuyler Deerman

      I walked up to a wise man once, who was¬†methodically tapping the nearly worn down delete key on his laptop. I asked him if realized he was deleting unread emails, to which he responded, “If it’s important, they always write again.”

  2. markslater

    majority forgives ūüėČ

  3. LIAD

    Surely asking people to resend the same email only makes your problem worse.It’s like dealing with an overflowing bath by turning up the faucet.

    1. markslater

      we dont bathe here Рwe shower. 

      1. LIAD

        overflowing showers make for bad analogies 

    2. fredwilson

      It makes my problem worse but increases the senders chance of getting a reply

      1. LIAD

        Surprised by the laissez-faire attitude. Why succumb to the problem rather than finding a way to crush it?Is there a larger network of more engaged users than those who use email?

        1. Dave Pinsen

          The vast majority of email users don’t have anywhere near Fred’s volume of (non-spam) email. This is a problem that affects a relatively tiny group of prominent, sought after individuals.

          1. awaldstein

            True…I’ve wondered often whether the comment numbers on this blog were alone in the universe of blogs as well.@danielha:disqus has that answer I bet.

          2. falicon

            If not alone, def. in a very select few with a MASSIVE gap between them and the next group…btw – I owe you an email on that other thing…will try to get you that at some point today ūüėČ

          3. Michael Elling

            It’s Zipf’s law; a power distribution occurring everywhere, even the blogosphere.

          4. Ahmet Kara

            I’m truly amazed by the number of comments on this blog as well. The comments themselves have been quite teaching to me as well.¬†I’ve been wondering whether we have an option to get comment threads in a way, but of course, not via e-mail ūüôā

          5. William Mougayar

            Have you tried Engagio? Please do and let me know what you think. – posted via Engagio

          6. Ahmet Kara

            Oh yes, I have tried it (by pure chance, a couple of minutes ago, just before I saw your comment).. I wish it had appropriate indentation for threads, but if I’m not wrong, there is none.Another point is, I would like to close my newly created engagio account, but again, I couldn’t find such a function on the site.

          7. William Mougayar

            We responded to you a minute ago. Thanks. – posted via Engagio

          8. LIAD

            The quantum may be different but I think everyone suffers and no-one would complain if their email volume decreased

          9. JamesHRH

            No, Dave is right. Very few people have a tidal wave of valid emails.

        2. fredwilson

          Not crushable

          1. LIAD


          2. Matt A. Myers

            I’m sure Gary Vee wouldn’t like hearing that!

          3. Matt A. Myers

            Here’s an idea –Have a priority inbox version based on pulling in data such as participation data from Disqus. Sort of a way to reward via ‘higher chances’ of being seen. Though it might have the side-effect of having people just trying to participate here for this purpose only, and cause clutter vs. quality.Maybe something¬†@wmoug:disqus¬†can integrate into Engagio?

          4. William Mougayar

            There’s a bit of that in Engagio already where we know the strength of your interaction with a given person and give it a 1,2,3 bar status, but let’s take this offline and discuss further. We can certainly do more.¬†

          5. Matt A. Myers

            Cool. Yup. I have some thoughts to share with you – see if you can gather anything new to use from my thoughts. :)This thread got my brain going and got me excited. I can foresee Engagio developing into something I’d need in the future, like how Fred would benefit, with cultivating community, and being able to reward and give more support to those who participate and make the community a lively and hopefully better place. </end>

          6. ShanaC

            No no no and no.I like Serendipity in my life wayyyy too much.

          7. Matt A. Myers

            But¬†@ShanaC:disqus¬†¬†— you’d always be at the top of Fred’s inbox with this implemented. ūüėČ

          8. ShanaC

            @mattamyers:disqus¬†– the goal is not to be on top of fred’s inbox.¬†ūüôā

          9. Alex Murphy

            This sounds like a very zen moment.  Accept what is, not what you wish it was.  Your life will be happier for it on the other side.Putting this post up at least lets people know what to expect.  You could even set up an auto responder that writes back and says do one of the following X things.  Enjoy the freedom of not having to worry about replying to every email.

      2. Conrad Ross Schulman


        1. fredwilson

          Nah. Just trying be a really good one.

          1. Conrad Ross Schulman

            Your the best active VC. This is why my brother & I have been vigorously trying to work with you for the past 4+ years. And yes, I did resend my email this morning when I read your post

      3. ShanaC

        This makes you a nice guy who believes in aggrevating himself.Not the solution long term

      4. Trish Fontanilla

        S/he who rocks the subject line rules the Earth. You just need to start telling people that the subject line is their pitch. On my Droid I can only see 30 characters of the subject line. Make em count. “Nice meeting at that event” is a no no… but “Lunch 3/19 @ 2PM re: Partnership” works better.¬†

    3. JimHirshfield

      Inbox Jacuzzi.

  4. William Mougayar

    Do you have separate catch folders for the Disqus comments notifications, email subscriptions/services, and the rest is from priority? Responding to email only 2-3 times per day is a great tactic for avoiding unnecessary interruptions. 

    1. fredwilson

      Disqus yesNewsletters are filtered by google out of priority

      1. PrasannaKrishnamoorthy

        Holy cow – does that mean you’re able to read only 1/3 of your Priority Inbox?!

        1. fredwilson


  5. Dan Cornish

    If you have too much email you are doing too much. Slow down a bit, work less and work better. 

    1. fredwilson

      Correct diagnosis

    2. karen_e

      Hi Dan! Just talked to you on the phone yesterday (with Scott Naiva). I’m the MD at TRO Jung|Brannen. Pitching your product internally. Did not know you are a regular here at AVC – so am I – regular reader and commenter since 2003, yo – great to know we have the common language of this community. Did Scott forward this piece I wrote giving props to both you and AVC? http://smpsboston.wordpress

  6. RichardF

    I find this a bit of a bizarre post really, other than a public service announcement¬† telling people that you are not getting around to handling your email so send it again and it might get through, you are also signalling that you don’t want to try and manage the situation in a better way.If email is not working for you then just give up on a publically available email address.¬† Probably better all round for everyone.

    1. falicon

      But even if it’s 1 in 1,000 emails that he does have time to pay attention to, the odds of it turning into something good for all involved are still better than zero…As long as the disclosure is open and up front (which is what these type of posts are doing), we all know the rules we are playing the game by…and with that knowledge we can choose to play or not…

      1. RichardF

        ¬†I know what you are saying Kevin and I think it’s awesome that Fred is accessible as he is.However I just get the feeling that it weighs on Fred and there has to be a better way for him to filter the conversations.¬† Asking people to resend whilst magnanimous is surely sub optimal.Then again as he likes Twitter maybe he’s applying the Twitter stream effect to his email i.e. if he misses it first time round he might notice it second or third time.

  7. JimHirshfield

    OK, but did you call your mother?No excuses. Ya gotta make time for mama.

    1. fredwilson

      Yes. Every weekend

      1. JimHirshfield

        Such a mensch. ¬†ūüôā

  8. Brad

    If you are getting hundreds of comments on, reading twitter and trying to read emails, it is no wonder you can not catch up.

  9. K_Berger

    Feels to me like this post has a lot to do with venting frustration.¬† No problem, we’re here for you Fred.¬†

    1. fredwilson

      Among other things the AVC community is my support group

      1. Rohan

        So, Fred, how does this thread make you feel…(Hahahaha..)

      2. Jim Parker

        And yet, look how your inbox is filling with this post’s hundreds of comments. ūüėČ

        1. fredwilson

          just one email though

    2. kenberger

      there’s another K Berger around here?!?!

      1. K_Berger

        Not just another K Berger, another Ken Berger.¬† :)Hmm.¬† Apparently my prior posts here over the last few months have not been the attention getters I thought they were.¬† ūüėȬ† (Don’t worry, no offense taken.)

        1. ShanaC


  10. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

    Why not use Jim Carey’s style AUTO-REPLY as in Truman Show¬†“Did not read your mail yet and in case i don’t reply resend, resend and resend”.

  11. Dave Pinsen

    Maybe the AVC community can help — by not sending you any emails for a while. Maybe if everyone who reads your post today holds off on emailing you for a week or two, you can get caught up.

    1. Tom Labus

      Start with that and expand, repeat.

    2. fredwilson

      I really dislike getting regular mail

      1. Greg Biggers

        That’s interesting. Where do you want your regularly-occurring updates instead?

  12. Charlie Crystle

    Maybe it’s time for people to switch to handwritten notes to Fred. They’re more likely to get read (depending on the handwriting), and less likely to be long or insubstantial.¬†

    1. RichardF

       I would be truly bjorked my handwriting is completely illegible.  In fact I sometimes wonder if I have forgotten how to use a pen.

      1. Tom Bakalis

        What is this thing you call a “pen”?

        1. RichardF

          ¬†I know…the funny thing is I have a collection of fountain pens that I cannot find an excuse to use.

          1. panterosa,

            DRAW!!I have many fountain pens, with may color inks.Doodling is relaxing, and can’t really be done on a keyboard.

          2. RichardF

            ¬†I’ll have to try and unleash the artists in me panterosa, something I haven’t managed yet ūüėČ

          3. panterosa,

            You don’t need to make art. You free your mind and it then when your mind takes you interesting places.

          4. awaldstein

            To be able to do this…I decided early on to collect the icons of artists that spoke to me as graphically, I couldn’t create my own.

          5. ShanaC

            Pens feel weird though. ¬†They are definitely better than ballpoints.Umm favorite fountain pen? ¬†I have a favorite ink brand already ūüôā

          6. panterosa,

            If they feel weird then they suck. Or suck for you. A great pen is about balance. I have a Waterman, and several others. I do calligraphy, and illustrations from calligraphy. Did I show you that work??- posted via Engagio

          7. JLM

            Whiteboards are my favorite invention. ¬†I know people I would trade heads up for a 5′ x 16′ magnetic whiteboard.I cannot even speak without a whiteboard in the room.I was terrible at mechanical drawing but I can sketch out a process or model just a notch or two below Michelangelo (he said modestly).I will leave a particularly good model in a conference room where the folks eat as a subliminal message.I take pictures of some of my favorites and file them away.

          8. ShanaC

            Nope, you haven’t shown me that stuff…

      2. ShanaC

        me too.  actually, knowing how to write is super annoying to me.  I only use it for forms.  Which should be standardized and electronized.

      3. falicon

        The grade schools in my area have caught on to this as well…many are barely bothering to teach cursive writing anymore…but they are moving typing classes to lower and lower grades…

        1. RichardF

           My son has just started school Kevin and they are teaching him cursive writing, I had to think about it at first when I was helping him at home!

        2. panterosa,

          I really think that’s sad. My daughter, 10 is learning cursive.I will teach her calligraphy. A huge reason I am an apple fan is due to their fonts from day 1 and Steve Jobs fascination with calligraphy. – posted via Engagio

        3. JLM

          If you have never been beaten by a Sister of Charity or a Christian Brother for failing to make your letters conform exactly to Palmer, you have missed a very important chapter of life.

    2. awaldstein

      Inbox’s generally are broken interfaces. Design gutters.¬†But social cred cuts through it.If you, Charlie, send Fred an email, what are the odds of it getting read? Of any one of the regulars here that Fred may not know outside of this community well?First rule of sales…never make the call or the meeting a cold one.¬†First rule of getting noticed or getting answered is to get acquainted first.¬†For Fred or for the community, commenting is a way to break through the cold and the clutter.Maybe the inbox can’t get fixed. But relationships cut through the noise.

      1. Tom Labus

        This is a great point.  Sometimes tech pushes people away from each other.

        1. awaldstein

          The social web is about people not tech.¬†That’s the magic of it. That’s also the conundrum.That’s what makes people and companies so unsure of what to do.¬†

      2. fredwilson


      3. Charlie Crystle

        Well I use ReturnPath for email deliverability. I email Matt and ask him to forward to to Fred. 

      4. William Mougayar

        It’s a reality that “social interactions” are taking a big chunk of people’s time and that time is coming out from somewhere. And furthermore, the value extracted from social interactions and true engagement is increasing.¬†

        1. awaldstein

          I agree with the first part of course.For the second I wonder whether this is the reality or aspirational. Engagio is a step towards making this a reality. 

          1. Matt A. Myers

            I love the ideas behind this all because you’re actually incentivizing people to go out and be social, to connect with others — to engage. Beautiful.

          2. awaldstein

            Here’s the point as relates to this post.Who in their right mind would send someone as taxed for attention as Fred an email:-if they didn’t know him-weren’t referred to him-something!!!It’s like going up to the roof of your apt building and shouting to attract customers.Social sense is instinctual in the successful entrepreneur of today. Always has been in the successful salesperson and marketer.¬†

          3. Matt A. Myers

            Agreed.Though those instincts are based off your senses, you still have to have the experiences to learn the nuances; How good your instincts are (and your senses) is what will determine how far your understanding can go – but you still need the experiences. Some people learn faster than others too..Reminds me of the sales person who’s quality vs. quantity. The fluidity of social web is really allowing, and even forcing, quality connections where you building quality relationships is the requirement to cut through all of the noise. Fred’s version of “marketing.” ūüôā

          4. karen_e

            It’s not only aspirational. I really, honestly have a better career now ’cause of this blog and the community.

          5. awaldstein

            I agree wholeheartedly and feel the same about avc.I’ve made some really great new friends. This is community at a new height, layered and dynamic, interesting and messy. Great stuff.But across your web of interactions, not networks of friends, how many of these communities do you have?¬†I have a handful of strong ones but it surprises me that the number is not bigger and the depth of conversations not deeper.William’s statement, to me, implied that what we experience here is pervasive. I believe that this can and will be. I work hard towards it on my own blogs and for clients, but its still nascent I believe.

          6. William Mougayar

            Exactly…Me too :)- posted via Engagio

          7. William Mougayar

            I think the 2nd part is reality Arnold. At least for me, it has been. Engagio is just a tool that helps you to make this happen more efficiently, and it keeps you aware of the hidden potential behind these relationships. – posted via Engagio

          8. awaldstein

            It’s not that engagement online is not key to life.There is no question.My question is to what degree and how to deepen and broaden that. Engagio is helping me understand this and potentially how to make it so more.

        2. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          1. William Mougayar

            EXACTAMUNDO – posted via Engagio

      5. BillMcNeely

        Well said! I am reading Gary Vee’s The Thank You Economy and re enforced many of his points he made!

        1. awaldstein

          A good read. 

      6. ShanaC

        So why the emphasis in sale’s positions around cold calls?

        1. awaldstein

          Different strokes for different margins.The value of a customer to me and the value of a customer to your cable company make the process completely different.

    3. Rohan

      Depending on the handwriting.. LOL

    4. JamesHRH

      Actually, I bet that more people go crassy (start trying to get to Fred thru comments on AVC) rather than classy (hand written note)!Like the person who talks shop at a social event, because they can’t get past the EA (circa 1977 reference).

  13. andyswan

    Edit: nothing to see here. No solution, no magical app.So…how’s the weather?

    1. Rohan

      Found the project, you have..

      1. andyswan

        Already built. But….it was rude of me to bring it up when Fred explicitly said he didn’t want to hear of a new technology solution, so I edited the original comment. Sorry that makes your reply a floater.

        1. Rohan

          Weather’s okay. It’s bloody cold around here.No idea what you’re referring to.¬†ūüėČ

    2. fredwilson

      Bring it

    3. Elia Freedman

      There already is a solution. It is called a delete button.

    4. ShanaC

      Odd.  Global Warming afoot.  I barely used my winter coat this year.

  14. John Revay

    For me personally, I am blown away by the fact that over the last 4+/- months since I started following AVC- I have sent Fred several unsolicited emails – random topics – (suggesting blog posts topics, TEDx¬†video of some MIT students talking about new Nuke designs, must read – Cuban Missile, plus several others), and Fred manages to take the time to reply.There was one time that I thought he was traveling (suggesting that he read or watch something on the plane back from the west coast) his auto reply stated that he was “off grid” so don’t expect a prompt reply….in < than 1 hr I got a reply back from the man himself.1. I try to make them short – quick reads –¬†obvious¬†why I am sending…I don’t always succeed2. I try and always state/offer – NO REPLY¬†NECESSARY¬†– he typically does anyways3. My new mode is to try and send a tweet – I once read¬†something¬†Fred wrote where he talked about how much he preferred getting a message via twitter vs other mediums re: easy to read it on multiple devices. ¬†Fred (or any other AVC community members) please feel free to follow me so I can send DMs¬†@johnfrevay:disqus¬†Again blow away – Fred is A famous VC, and he takes the time to reply just as he does to most of the comments on AVC – I guess it is part of his Brand, Franchise, secret sauce what every you want to call it. Your LPs (shareholders) are very¬†fortunate (literally and figuratively)¬†to be able to invest in you.¬†Edited to fix minor typos

  15. Seth Godin

    I was there the day your email broke, Fred.I think it was 2000 or early 2001. We had just had an hour long meeting and you checked your email and discovered that in the hour you had been away from your machine, 60 emails had arrived.You’d reached the point where even if you spent every working minute on email, it was coming in faster than it could be read.I feel your pain. Yes I do.

    1. William Mougayar

      Seth, any tips from you re: handling the onslaught of email? 

      1. Seth Godin

        ¬†I’m good at saying no, quickly. Though some people aren’t good at hearing no, quickly.

        1. David No√ęl

          By which you learn a great deal about their personality/character.

        2. fredwilson


          1. Devang

            I have managed to take control of incoming email avalanche by following two simple steps:1) Filter all incoming unread emails in appropriate mail boxes. The goal here is _not_ to categorize or organize emails but to prioritize and select which email I’m going to read when I open my email client.2) Once I open an email, I do one of the followings in within 5 seconds :¬† ¬† A) Press “Reply”…¬† ¬† B) This is an ongoing current conversation, for example project I’m working on right now. Leave it in Inbox.¬† ¬† C) I want to think about it before taking any action. Move it in a mailbox named “Ponder”¬† ¬† D) I may need this info later. Move it in a mailbox named “Preserve”.¬† ¬† E) I loathe to deal with this, but I don’t want to delete it. Move it in a mailbox named “Procrastinate”¬† ¬† F) Press “Delete”And periodically remove stale conversations from Inbox.¬†This approach has helped me stay on top of the my emails without feeling that I am missing out on anything.

          2. Richard

            “I fully expect it to be used, once established,¬† Day and Night with little rest”Samuel Morse (specking on his telegraph of course)

        3. falicon

          Quite possibly the best comment I’ve ever read. Seriously. Love it.

          1. Mark Essel

            I’m a terrible salesman. I hear no, and believe that is the end of the conversation. There are plenty of yes’es to be had, and it’s not up to me to force any deal. I want enthusiastic yes’es, like an evangelical tv host.A masterly crafted inbound is what I’m after, Dropbox is a great example of a product that sells itself.

        4. BillMcNeely

          I can deal with a loud or even a silver tongued “NO”. Just not the sound of ambiguous silence.

          1. laurie kalmanson

            no is better than maybe

          2. Richard

            A “no” is a amazing tool if it is followed by a “why”. It is part of the iterative process.

          3. Alex Murphy

            Maybe is a fine answer so long as you dig in … “what will it take to move the maybe to a yes?” … “when” etc

          4. laurie kalmanson

            i hear you. if you think you can get the maybe to be yes, awesome. but no can save a lot of wasted time.

          5. Donna Brewington White

            Oh! ¬†So “no” doesn’t mean “maybe”?(In all seriousness, I know what you mean. ¬†As much as I hate the noncomittal “maybe” I find myself saying it. ¬†Then my kids start cheering because they take it as a yes. ¬†I sometimes think I am raising a house of future salespeople.)

          6. laurie kalmanson

            a houseful of sales people, yes; or lawyers. same, same. “negotiating” skills.

          7. Donna Brewington White

            Oh, Laurie, I almost included “lawyers” in that statement. ¬†I’ve made the mistake of letting my kids have the opportunity to argue their case and they are quite good at it. ¬†Makes life harder for me but they won’t always live here and will someday be challenging the status quo somewhere else! ¬†Then I will have a rest.

          8. laurie kalmanson

            little litigators.

        5. matthughes


        6. JLM

          The two best answers in business are a quick YES or a quick NO.At the end of the day, all an executive is is someone who makes decisions.

          1. Tom Labus

            …that no one else wants to make.¬†

          2. CJ

            An executive is someone with the power to say YES that wants to say NO.

        7. JLM

          Little tangent but worthy of a bit of thought.One does not “receive” a NO, one “accepts” a NO.I cannot tell you the number of times I have gotten to YES, simply because I do not accept NO.When I owned high rise office buildings, I used to have a platoon or so of leasing agents and I used to give them a Moleskine notebook, a Mont Blanc pen and send them out to make cold calls.I used to tell them to keep pitching the deal until they call the police. ¬†And then when the police arrived, ask the cops if they need any office space.This was really the screen that separated the killers from the innocent bystanders.When I would hand them a multi $100K commission check, I would ask them when they actually earned that check. ¬†They almost always got it wrong.They earned it when they stopped taking NO for an answer.Every day wake up prepared to bite the ass off a bear. ¬†If you are going to be a bear yourself, why not a grizzly?

          1. JamesHRH

            “Until the call the police” – too funny.

          2. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          3. William Mougayar

            As the saying goes, the selling starts when the client says NO. – posted via Engagio

          4. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          5. William Mougayar

            LOL. – posted via Engagio

          6. stevenwillmott

            FAKE GRIMLOCK – I guess that’s why customer segmentation is an important skill for sales people that want to stay alive.

        8. Alex Murphy

          My perception is that too many people hear no too quickly or perceive no when no wasn’t even the real response and therefore miss out.It is hard to get someone to try Green Eggs and Ham without ignoring no. Ignoring no ‘tactfully’ is a great talent that far too few people have. ¬†

        9. Donna Brewington White

          That’s because there are people like me who hear “no” as “not now” or “not yet” or “not exactly.” ¬†Just a temporary obstacle to be overcome. ¬†You have to hit us over the head…hard. ¬†And even then, even as we are seeing stars, we are still trying to think of a redirect.Sometimes I hate being like this.

    2. JamesHRH

      Major French IT firm has ‘banned’ email. Internal email not allowed to be sent.Making a point there, but email is just a symptom of society – too much noise!

      1. Dave Pinsen

        ¬†If you want to talk to someone at that major French IT firm, I’m guessing you could do so over a leisurely lunch accompanied by a few glasses of wine. Which is probably more productive than most email correspondence anyway.

        1. JamesHRH

          LOL Рfirst time in a long time that a Disqus comment has done that!@wmoug:disqus is that how they STILL do it back home?And yet, for many things, too true.

          1. William Mougayar

            Give me wine or give me death…

          2. leigh

            whisky….give me whisky or….

          3. William Mougayar

            single malts, 20yrs+?

          4. leigh

            ah we are playing around. You’ll have to come to the house in Shelburne. Perfect place for a fire and a taste test line up ūüôā

          5. Mark Essel


      2. Matt A. Myers

        Yup. People would become much better communicators, and really know what they are trying to say, what they want out of a conversation, etc. before initiating.

      3. Glenn Crist

        The only¬†place I ever worked with who I felt had this communications thing nailed down did not do so corporately –¬†we had a¬†sort of a self-directed, unspoken edict that we worked out – we were a coding shop and we used the heck out of ICQ – we had telephones but if you were going to actually make someone break contact with the keyboard to pick up the phone you really had better have¬†had a damn good reason for it.

    3. Rohan

      How do you manage to stay on top of your email, Seth?¬†I’ve been amazed (and inspired) by your response speed..

    4. fredwilson

      You had to remind me of that day seth?? ūüėČ

    5. ShanaC

      Now everyone is like that.  But if we got rid of email, the messages would just shift to another medium.We need to get rid of something else, alas

      1. awaldstein

        I love email.We just use it when we should text. Use it when we should call. Use it when we should just shut up ;))We have a communications hierarchy including Disqus that is really quite striated and super efficient.And BTW…for those on this string who did M & A or took companies public pre email and had to rely on cell phones and fax machines. They may kvetch a little but I’m certain they won’t really complain.

        1. JLM

          Hey, how about folks who were in business before the advent of PCs and fax?The first fax capabilities that came out were at FedX offices and were $1/page and were thought to be magic.  Magic!Remember thermographic paper that curled up and the ink ran?  Magic!

          1. awaldstein

            Magic indeed!I remember my fax bills sitting in hotel rooms in Europe getting contracts faxed from Singapore half the night, then from California the other. And marking everything up by hand.Yes, I really do love email.And I really do love working and building businesses in today’s marketplace. It’s just too much fun.

          2. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          3. LE

            At my daughters Bat Mitzvah a¬† part of my speech was talking about things that weren’t around when I was her age.¬† It was a crowd favorite. But the videographer ran out of “video tape” and they lost the end applause.There were a zillion things I came up with.That was in 2005.Before twitter. And before facebook was available to anyone outside of colleges. Before ubiquitous smartphones, iphones, apps, ipad and much more.

          4. Alex Murphy

            ah … thermographic paper. ¬†that is quite the memory. ¬†Like a manually operated car window. ¬†ūüôā

          5. Donna Brewington White

            I’m showing my age but I laugh to think that in my first job my boss at a large corporation wouldn’t let me get near a typewriter or a computer because he thought it would be a misuse of my time. ¬†My main job was writing job descriptions, so I wrote them in long hand and someone else typed them! ¬†

          6. awaldstein

            That’s how I wrote my thesis in college.

        2. ShanaC

          YES! ¬†OMG, do we need to rewrite the rules of communicating, when there are more ways of communicating, we need to figure out better ways of getting the message across.I’ve been super tempted to do a tumblr of web¬†etiquette. ¬†There is a serious need. ¬†Mostly because of this issue (among others)Though I wish it was question based rather than ¬†“this is what you do” based. ¬†This stuff is still evolving.

          1. awaldstein

            About a year ago (I think) Om Malik did a post based on observing that his phone bill was going down as other channels of communications rolled into his life.¬†Net of this is that the communications pyramid is inverted.Calls are the most intimate of communications. In fact, I don’t want to have one until I both have information and ‘know’ the person.¬†Just got off the phone with someone who I’ve communicated with on this blog, emails, docs exchanged. First phone call just kicked.¬†Connections on all levels. Cool stuff. Case in point.

          2. Mark Essel

            This would be useful- netiquette + preferred communication channels (which are varied for different folks).Tumblr + Disqus => opinion + feedbackMaybe a sub reddit would work better

  16. testtest

    i do the same thing; started to treat email more like twitter.¬†i’m¬†hesitant to recommend it to people, because i don’t think it’s right for everyone.¬†but, that doesn’t mean it’s not good for a few.¬†a zero-inbox isn’t something that i aspire to–i don’t deem it a signal indicating productivity.

  17. Dan Lewis

    I know you don’t want solutions here — so don’t take this as an offer of one ūüôā It isn’t. It’s honestly just a thought experiment.I’d love to see someone make a blanket rule: No email for 30 days. ¬†If you want to contact me, contact me in other ways. Make exceptions for a handful of people who need to be able to contact you any way, any time, like your family and partners, thereby making email a Batphone of sorts. ¬†Everyone else who emails you gets an auto-reply explaining that they’ll simply have to find another way to contact you or wait until the end of the 30 day period.What I’d want to measure:1) Qualitatively, why senders (if any) felt off-put by this. Could be done via automated survey after the 30 day period.2) Qualitatively, whether the receiver felt worse off.3) Qualitatively, whether the value/importance of received messages increased.4) Quantitatively, whether the time saved was significant.

    1. falicon

      I’m on a super tiny scale compared to Fred, but I actually do live by a version of this…the only thing is I’ve turned off all my other communication options…so I’m always telling people, if you want to reach me, email me. ¬†I keep everything I ‘have to deal with’ in my inbox…I even email myself tasks and important things all the time.This way, if it’s not in my inbox, I don’t feel bad about not dealing with it…and I have a complete list of all the open things I need to deal with (it doesn’t move out of my inbox until I’ve dealt with it; and I keep my inbox as clean as possible).What I find is that this process works great for me…it becomes one central communication point that anyone can participate in (it’s very easy to find my email address online)…it lets me deal with stuff on my own schedule (instead of everyone elses)…and it’s a system I can generally access from anywhere at any time…For your #1 question…I do get push back from people all the time about me not taking phone calls, skype requests, etc. but honestly I don’t care if they don’t like my process (there are plenty of other people they can work with and I’m too busy/interested doing the things I want to do to try and make everyone else happy).For #2 – I def. thrive the more I enforce this process on the people that want to talk to me (and by the way, even my wife knows to email me if it’s something important she wants me to deal with).#3 – not really in my case.#4 – absolutely…especially when coding (disruptions are massive productivity killers when you hit your coding groove).

  18. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

    If friendship is your weakest point then¬†you are the strongest person in the world- Don’t know who.If email is your weakest point then you are the strongest VC in the world – Kasi

  19. Marcin

    Fred, I know you asked not to send you tips on how to manage email, but I believe this one – taken from the recruitment industry – might make all the difference. Since the biggest volume of inbound email will probably be potential investments or people that would like to work with you in some way, and the biggest risk of not answering is missing the potentially huge homerun my advice would be: randomly delete 2/3 of incoming mail. Answer all the rest. Since the choice will be random, the people/companies you don’t answer are just plain unlucky. And you dont want bad luck in your portfolio. I’m sure FAKEGRIMLOCK would not agree, as he would probably say – REPLY ALL > PLEASE COME MEET. SNACK THEM WHEN THEY ARRIVE.

    1. fredwilson

      That’s what I do

      1. Marcin

        I’m not visiting USV in that case…

  20. Dave Pinsen

    “The result is hundreds of comments about how I can make email work better for me. Please don’t leave those comments. I don’t want to make email work better for me. I don’t want to hire an assistant to do email for me. I don’t want to try some new magical app that will make email better for me.”This request has already ignored. I bet Fred was tempted to disable comments on this post.

    1. andyswan

      Good point. ¬†Can’t an alcoholic complain about a hangover without an intervention once in a while?Edited previous comment accordingly.

    2. fredwilson

      Nah. Lots of good stuff in here as usual

      1. Donna Brewington White

        Fred! ¬†Don’t encourage us. ¬†I was trying to be good and honor your request.Not that I have advice. ¬†I’m worse than you if that’s possible. ¬†Just not the same volume. ¬†

  21. William Mougayar

    I think the main point you’re making is that 3 hrs/day for email is plenty and is the maximum. In a 12 hr-day, that’s plenty and I agree.¬†I wonder how much time is spent on Social, although there is some overlap, e.g. if you use email to reply to comments, is that social or email, or both? I think we’ve discussed the email/social intersections previously.¬†

  22. John Revay

    Email marketing (assuming you are not the new hot start up that USV is courting)> Peak vs off peak Рis there a better time to send non urgent emails re: early AM or weekends> Descriptive or catchy subject line

    1. fredwilson

      The answer to that is yes. But you have to figure out when

  23. b4rk13

    No offense, but in my workplace I don’t accept ‘my inbox is overloaded’ being used as an excuse when I’m expecting a response to my email, because your poor email management is not my problem.I expect you get a lot more emails than most, Fred, but then it’s up to you to use the tools at your disposal to filter through the spam. And to be honest, it’s not hard. The easiest thing you can do is set up a filter with a whitelist of the people whose emails you want to appear in your inbox and get the rest to by-pass your inbox and get filed to a ‘Read Later’ folder or something.Once you’ve done that, tweak your email workflow to deal with processing emails more efficiently. Recommend the GTD ‘Do now, delegate, defer or delete’ methodology. That’s what helps me get and keep my inbox at zero./tough-love

    1. fredwilson

      I’ve done all that and more. I bet I could teach you how to manage email better.#toughlove

      1. Jon Olick

        I would like to read that post. ūüôā Some additional self-analysis might even offer some improvements that are not obvious when your in the thick of it.



      3. b4rk13

        Your post gave me the impression that weren’t doing anything, nor willing to attempt to try and manage your emails, hence the #toughlove. I’ll retract it and sympathise with your problem then.I’m just not a fan of people who try and make their problems yours when they’re not willing to help themselves first. Furthermore, it frustrates me that the “I’m drowning in email” is an acceptable excuse these days for not getting things done, when, for the average person (you’re excluded now!), managing your email is not an impossible task.

    2. Nick Grossman

      Right — but over time, it seems that email volume will only continue to increase, making the problem worse for everyone. ¬†Maybe we’re on the edge of needing a cultural change from ‘guaranteed delivery’ to ‘best effort delivery’ (… w/ email. ¬†

    3. falicon

      This is exactly the opposite of my thinking…I treat the phone much like Fred treats email…that is to say, I think it’s perfectly fine for anyone to try and call me whenever they want, about anything they want…but just because you call, doesn’t mean I’m going to stop doing what I’m doing and take that call…and just because you leave a voicemail doesn’t mean I’m going to call you back (especially if you don’t give me enough of a reason in your voicemail).I get that there are manners around communication, but people should also remember that when you are reaching out to someone YOU are the one being distractive…I think the receiver is well within their rights to ignore your attempt as they see fit…And by the way, ignoring a communication doesn’t mean you want to ignore it…there are lots of legit reasons for needing to ignore a communication request…I think sheer volume is just one of them…

      1. Donna Brewington White

        I’d much rather get an email. ¬†I can read it any time of day or night. ¬†I’d much rather send one for the same reason. ¬†I pretty much only do pre-arranged calls outside of my family and close friends.And believe it or not I love conversation.It’s all about time management.

      2. b4rk13

        My philosophy is ‘use the right tool for the job’. If it’s a quick question that doesn’t need an audit trail, then it’s a phone call or IM. I don’t leave voicemail unless I’m really struggling to get hold of you, or I know you’re going to pick it up quickly and respond.I mainly treat emails as ‘tasks’ when I send them, so no unnecessary “thank you for sending that”, etc emails. If it’s a long email, then I include a summary and actions required at the top and the context underneath. (Incidentally, I know that PwC UK has re-labelled the ‘To’ and ‘CC’ fields as ‘Action required’ and ‘Information only’ in their email clients – which I like as a concept!)I also liked the concept of¬†¬†which allows you to add a line to your email signature to let people know how best to get hold of you. That way you can tell people to rather call than email, etc.

  24. Brad

    I had a boss once that would send me an email with a one line question (are you going to lunch?). We sat four feet from each other in cubicles. I still prefer to call or walk over to a desk to talk about the issue than to send an email. Sometimes email is just lazy.

    1. Donna Brewington White

      Ha! ¬†We text each other in our house. ¬†It’s not even that big of a house.

      1. Brad

        We live in a ridiculous world. Remember when we used to actually talk to each other?

        1. Donna Brewington White

          We use texting as an “intercom” — I live in a house where 4 of the 6 are extroverts. ¬†And even the 2 introverts are highly relational and talkative! ¬†A lot of talking! ¬†It would make you crazy!But I see any type of communication as just that — whether it is verbal or in writing. ¬†It’s depth of relationship that matters — and people prone to deeper relationships are going to have those regardless of the communication method — and vice versa. ¬†In some ways, I see people becoming more relational because of all the new avenues of communication available.

  25. Tom Labus

    The phone for a awhile. 

  26. Jean-Claude

    One of the (obvious) reasons for Twitter’s success is the 140 character limit that makes tweets digestible even at a large volume.¬† Perhaps there is a lesson there?¬† The subject line, if used properly, might allow you to make a quicker read and thus a better selection on which emails to read and which to ignore.¬† If you only have 3 hrs, at least you can make them count.

  27. Jan Schultink

    After Tweet-timing, now email-timing :-)Email becomes a stream of subject lines wanting to be clicked…

  28. andreaitis

    Bold but true. ¬†Answering email isn’t always the most effective and productive use of time. ¬†I never thought I would let emails go unanswered, but I do now…and I try very hard not to feel guilty about it. ¬†Solidarity, Fred. ¬† (virtual fist-bump)

    1. fredwilson


    2. jason wright

      I often ignore emails, especially from people who have clearly made little effort to communicate as if I’m a real person out beyond ‘their’ world.

  29. PrasannaKrishnamoorthy

    Interesting to model each email as a demand on Fred’s time and attention.¬†* What are unsolicited, what are expected?* What are from new contacts, what are from old?* What demand an action from Fred, Vs those that are just notifications?* What are time bound Vs open endedIt’s funny to imagine all these folks who send email running after Fred with each of their requests and notifications ūüôā clamoring for attention. Fred might like email bankruptcy better than that :o)Reminds me of Indian politicians (state ministers for instance), holding court once a week at their offices, where queues of hundreds throng for a slot of a minute or so each. Many go back disappointed – the higher the politician, the more the people, and less the chance of a slot.Anyway Fred, don’t feel guilty, perhaps farm out your old undead, I mean unRead, mail out to an assistant perhaps, or just auto-reply to every day’s unread email saying ‘You didn’t meet my email quota of the day – better luck next time!’ ūüôā

  30. Carl J. Mistlebauer

    ….so I guess I have to resend my email request to be neighbors on Farmville? ¬†ūüôā

    1. ShanaC

      I’ll be your neighbor (no wait, I won’t)

      1. Carl J. Mistlebauer

        Shana, big secret…I don’t play games on Facebook or any other place for that matter! :)I can’t believe that folks cough up an average of $100 a month on games on Facebook just so they can entertain themselves while waiting for their friends to post something….What a bored society we are!

        1. ShanaC

          Personally I think the likes of Clay Shirky is right – we are a bored society. ¬†We also don’t read enough. ¬†Or write enough. ¬†Or figure out how to entertain ourselves enough.That being said, I think games are a really important part of being human. ¬†I do think long term all those digital clicks will be doing more than just dealing with ads.

        2. FAKE GRIMLOCK


        3. Mark Essel

          I shamelessly admit a fascination with wonderful stories and fantastic worlds. Enjoying the hell out of Reckoning on my ps3.

  31. Cynthia Schames

    Wow. ¬†Did Fred Wilson just say that email is a problem that’s not crushable? ¬†#gauntletthrown

    1. fredwilson

      For some, I believe that is true

      1. Cynthia Schames

        @fredwilson:disqus¬†It may very well be true, but I also think that email is an area where startups could seriously innovate and change paradigms. ¬†Email IS broken, but it’s not going away. ¬†Alhough we are moving more and more communications onto different platforms. ¬†We still need a secure channel for private, or long-form, or other conversations that require archival. ¬†I’m backing the email Kickstarter project from those kids at VA Tech right now (Mail Pilot), and based on both the traction they’re getting from the press, and the level of excitement of “real people”, I think they’re on to something. ¬†I hope they can execute.

        1. BillMcNeely

          Joshua Baer of Other In Box down here in Austin made a mint when he sold to ReturnPath recently so I am sure there is¬†real money to made in the email vertical . (Joshua’s¬†Telsa lic plate is simply EMAIL)¬†¬†¬†

          1. Cynthia Schames

            @billmcneely:disqus¬†Yep, I know Josh a little bit. He is an investor in the email-related startup where I most recently worked.¬†There IS real money to be made in email. ¬†There are several areas of opportunity: 1) individual email dashboards or solutions to the issue that Fred is describing; that’s what Mail Pilot is doing. 2) emerging tech to replace email. 3) email marketing, which is a whole other beast and not going away. 4) possible hybrids such as combination synchronous/asynchronous communication methods. 5) ???

        2. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          1. Cynthia Schames

            @FAKEGRIMLOCK yes.

          2. laurie kalmanson


          3. Cynthia Schames

            #dreamteam #fantasystartupleague- posted via Engagio

          4. laurie kalmanson

             #wintheinternet  #world2.0

    2. K_Berger

      Fred’s problem isn’t that his email needs to be more efficient.¬† The problem is that he is trying to do too much.¬† I’m sure Fred handles far more email now than two years ago.¬† But at some point, there aren’t significant efficiencies to be gained.You might be stuck until that person cloning app is live.¬† Or be in two places at once.¬† But at some point even two of you won’t be enough.

      1. Cynthia Schames

        @K_Berger:disqus¬†I understand that Fred is an incredibly busy guy. ¬†I also understand that he is a serious mensch and tries very, very hard to answer his emails. ¬†He’s replied to mine more than once.¬†My point is that I believe there are necessary cultural shifts coming, and that at some point people are going to realize that the right tool for the right job ¬†extends to communications too. ¬†There are things that need to take place over email for the reasons I mentioned (security, archiving, eDiscovery, etc.), but scheduling, quick links, and even a lot of information dissemination are not those things.I can envision a paradigm where your “inbox” is truly an aggregate of all the different channels upon which you communicate: email, twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, G+, Disqus, etc. is on that path, so are many others. ¬†Will be interesting to see who can get there first and do it best. ¬†I believe that’s the first step toward solving the email problem: tools to manage firehose. Second step: culture change, use right tool for job. Don’t email me jokes, they belong on Facebook. ¬†Don’t email me to schedule something, use iChat, text, Twitter, etc. DO email me proprietary info, confidential info, formal business communication.See where I’m going with this?

        1. K_Berger

          I do see where you are going, and I’m sure people will come up with better tools.¬† But at the end of the day, it is all communication.¬† So whether it is 140 characters or two pages long, as long as one person is doing it all him/herself, there is only so much you can read, parse, and respond to coherently.Afterthought: My inbox is a complete disaster right now so this might just be my mind rationalizing out loud. Going to catch up on some email now…

  32. ShanaC

    And I thought I declared email bankruptcy too often.Fred, I suspect the problem is only going to get worse.Choice a) you offload some your responsibilities onto someone else.B) for certain types of emails, have stock responses that should be in canned response (eg, introductions.  just write those sorts of emails in advance).  It makes answering ytour email more actionable?C) have regular wipe your email box periods.  Sorry everyone.:(I just wish I knew how to fix this one.

  33. Digikist

    Hi Fred ‚Äď Yesterday I had messaged you through LinkedIn with a proposal and if your LinkedIn notifications are in the same queue as your e-mail, please allow me to summarize it here:I have two room availabilities at SXSW this year at the W Hotel.¬† I read on your blog that you won‚Äôt be attending but I imagine that some of your portfolio companies may be interested in experiencing the festival.¬†For the privilege and feedback I would get of discussing a web business plan with you for an hour in late March or April in NYC at a place of your choosing, I can offer luxury hotel accommodations just blocks from the convention center at the heart of the SXSW festival for one of two room blocks (the nights of 3/9, 3/10 and 3/11) or (the nights of 3/12 and 3/13) for executives of your portfolio companies (or if there are USV associates that would like a free room).I am designing a social media platform that aims to be the type of ‚Äėlarge network of engaged users‚Äô that which Union Square Ventures looks to invest.¬† Consider taking me up on my offer to gift sold out accommodations to anyone who you choose for an hour of your time so that I can introduce my concept in its entirety.Thank you so much for your consideration and I hope to hear from you soon.Sincerest regards,Marc [email protected]

    1. fredwilson

      i don’t respond to linkedin or facebook messagesi ignore them

  34. Mahir Lupinacci

    Really? ¬†The solution of not being able to get to your email is to encourage people you haven’t responded to to re-send their email? ¬†If everyone did that it would not increase the chance of it being seen. ¬†One suggestion is to let people know if you received an email that you would prefer not to receive. ¬†For example, I’m sure people are copying you on stuff to “keep you in the loop,” which probably isn’t¬†necessary. Additionally, it might make sense to encourage all unsolicited meeting/funding requests to a different email account. ¬†You could have an admin or associate weed out the emails that are clearly from someone who is not out of sound mind and the remaining would get forwarded to you. ¬†

  35. Elia Freedman

    My grandfather, when I was getting married, said to me some very wise words. In a marriage, he said, the hardest thing to figure out is whether your mate is asking for advise or venting. It is imperative to figure out which one because too many arguments are started over guessing it wrong.Not that there is a marriage here, between you and the AVC community, but vent away, Fred.

    1. Jess Bachman

      This is very true.  Men, and I am guess entrepreneurs are keen to solve problems.  Sometimes women just want men to sympathize.  Like Rosie Perez in WMCJ. 

      1. Elia Freedman

        I think entrepreneur’s tend to be problem solvers to begin with. But every woman I have ever met who is a problem solver has the same issue.It also has proven to be good anyway because trying to determine whether my wife wants a solution or an ear gives me a problem to solve while I’m listening (and makes me listen better)!

        1. ShanaC

          The hardest thing is when it starts out as venting when it is really advice needed…Also screwing this up makes you seem like you can’t listen.

          1. Elia Freedman

            If it isn’t clear, I usually wait until she runs out of steam and then ask. ūüôā

          2. ShanaC

            ah. ¬†Though sometimes I just want a guide to men…. ūüôā

    2. ShanaC

      I need to save that advice somewhere.

    3. JLM

      They are ALWAYS venting and only sometimes are they asking for advice.I actually think one of the cornerstones of a great marriage is having a mate to whom you can say anything and not be judged a lunatic.  Because face the facts, most of the people who post on this blog are 7/10 on the lunatic scale.You have to be able to fuss to defuse stress in your life.If you can pick a restaurant on three consecutive Fridays without fussing, then I will nominate you for a Nobel peace prize.It is part of the ritual and ritual is sometimes the only glue to hold a marriage together.

      1. Elia Freedman

        It all got easier when I realized we were both nuts. ūüôā

      2. Alex Murphy

        Only two things I would change with this … I think sometimes is more like rarely if ever and 7/10 seems low to me. ūüôā

      3. Mark Essel

        “say anything and not be judged a lunatic”This is a profound statement on life mates. The same goes for best friends. I’ve said my fair of outrageous nonsense.

    4. K_Berger

      As the husband, I suggest to always assume venting.¬† If she wants advice, she’ll ask again.¬† Now if only I could heed my own advice.I cannot remember ever just venting to my wife.

    5. fredwilson


    6. LE

      “hardest thing to figure out is whether your mate is asking for advise or venting”Your grandfather is correct. The conventional wisdom (which I’ve found to be true) is that men want to fix problems but woman want to vent. They want to tell you a problem but they aren’t looking for an answer.¬†One of the (many) reasons that woman like to hang with gay men maybe. The gay men will listen and morsel¬†over¬†(discuss) the problems but I think they are light with the advice and solutions.¬†

  36. Richard

    Is Fred’s email problem a missed opportunity for google? Why not¬†¬†have a 14O character summary field in addition to the Title Field? Perfect for personal emails ….and would allow you to quickly separate computer generated emails as well. Thoughts?¬†

  37. Nick Grossman

    I struggle with this as well. ¬†I like efforts like¬† to help change the culture. ¬†Smartphones & short replies help too.Social media helps cut this now by fragmenting the inbox between twitter, disqus, etc. ¬†But it seems like there’s a trend towards convergence there (e.g., ¬†This is super handy now, but what happens when our combined social media stream creates a newer, bigger, deeper, darker inbox?

  38. Jess Bachman

    Maybe you can setup a pay-per-email at $5 to reach the inbox. ¬†All donated to charity ofcourse. ¬†Or make it a self serve bidding model with a fixed inventory of 25 emails today.That’s probably a terrible idea.

    1. falicon

      You could start that service without Fred…use the money from the winning bids to pay an NYU student to hang out at the coffee shop in Union Square each morning and deliver the messages from the winning bids to Fred directly in person once a day ūüėČ

    2. Cynthia Schames

      @jessbachman:disqus Your last sentence made me LOL. 



  39. jason wright…Is it an email black hole, or a Fred Wilson black hole?Is email the ‘problem’, or is email a symptom of a problem?I’m reminded of King Canute.Perhaps your email client should have a ‘front door’ that requires senders to answer a few quick questions ¬†before the email is accepted. Not sure what the questions would be, but it might filter out the frivolous nonsense. Perhaps a set of friendly quiz-type questions about AVC and USV just to see how well the sender knows you and your gang and the ‘mission’. Get the answers wrong and the email bounces back undelivered with a message like “sorry, you must learn more about us first (done with a smile of course)’.How about a read notify widget? You open an email and the sender gets a notification of that. If you don’t answer that’s your answer. A bit blunt, but it’s a response…of sorts.

    1. ShanaC

      Wouldn’t that just require more emails, making the problem worse?

      1. jason wright

        Well, if the learning process teaches the sender that USV isn’t the right fit for their idea then there will be no need to try to send another email. Maybe.Ultimately it’s a catch 22 for Fred. If he engages with the email it’s time burn, and if he doesn’t it’s potentially investment lead burn (but you don’t know what you don’t know). Success has its rewards, but also its burdens.¬†As Jack, Ed, and Alan said repeatedly in Glengarry Glen Ross, “What can you do?….Without the good leads what can you do?”.Alan (Arkin) also said, “On the board?…I’m fucked on the board”. I don’t think that’s Fred’s scene.

  40. Guest

    I can’t imagine not being able to get to inbox zero (but then again I’m not close to the high profile guy you are). Have you considered having your assistant help you sort through emails?¬†———————–http://talktobradanderic.tu…

  41. Miljenko Hatlak

    We (humans) are main limiting factor to any communication technology. We would all like to be able to answer on all phone calls, emails, twits and so on. But, there are obvious limits.You could not instantly reply on more then one e-mail, you could not answer (qualitatively) on more then one phone call and so on. We all want our questions to be answered as promptly, and we all tend not to answer outdated questions. So if we don’t reply on question in a reasonable time after, we won’t answer it. If we repeatedly ask some question there is a better chance it will be answered. Useful response is to reply all senders of unanswered e-mails with a message “Please resend your e-mail TOMORROW or any other day” while emptying your inbox. So if you physically emptying your inbox (not some script), you answer all unread e-mails and communication loop isn’t broken.

  42. andyidsinga

    ive been sending messages in the http request headers to this blog – you never answer ūüėČ sheesh

  43. Jevon

    I’m guessing that posting a comment in here has a few orders of magnitude higher chance of getting a response.¬†

    1. fredwilson


  44. Vinay Pai

    1% of people get 90% of the replies… Occupy Fred Wilson’s Inbox!

  45. Shawn Cohen

    Only a small percentage of the population feels okay sending the same message multiple times to the same person. But to get a busy person’s attention, sounds like it requires becoming the persistent SOB a lot of us deplore.

  46. BillMcNeely

    If you are having such a problem with responding to email, is social media  causing an even bigger (or maybe different) headache?Any Jane or Joe Blow can find you on LinkedIn or Twitter and hit you with a public or direct message. Finding your email address I am sure is much more difficult.

  47. chernevik

    A lot of this bloat is bad writing. ¬†People don’t realize writers should take time so readers needn’t. ¬†

    1. Michael Elling

      hear hear

  48. Mike

    Fred,¬†You’ve been complaining alot lately, like the hot girl in the nightclub with a tight catsuit on and complaining that too many guys are hitting on her.You give out MONEY as a profession. You chose to blog on the most popular VC blog. You trend on HackerNews, Techmeme, Techcrunch, etc.¬†As they said in the Godfather – “This is the profession that you chose!”Come to the real world like me – I’m a struggling business owner that checks my email 10 times a day in ¬†HOPES of an emails that want to do business with me. I’m broke, I have mortgaged my house and my business is failing.You should be blessed and look at it from another perspective.No hard feelings I hope.

    1. LE

      I understand what you are saying, but it’s a like telling someone they should be happy because others are in a wheelchair, or older, or have a sick child (or choose whatever you want).I don’t get the impression Fred is complaining. He’s stressed (a good stress) and simply telling his community not to be offended if he can’t answer an email.

      1. Mike

        LE, Thanx for the reply – I get what you are saying, it’s just that I happen to be the person in the wheelchair or sick or older – to use your analogy.I love Fred to death and I read his blog and the community comments everyday. My point is that he “chose” to make himself a “public figure”, to give out money and be a knowledge base and getting hit up with alot of emails should be expected and a small inconvenience.Robert Scolble does this ALL the time.

        1. fredwilson

          i’m not complaining about getting all the emailsi’m stressing about my inability to reply to all of themone of them might be from you seeking capital that would change your situation overnight.that bugs me.but i’m totally with you that my situation is trivial compared to yours

          1. Carl J. Mistlebauer

            Fred,As you know, I have a sense of humor, but I want you to know that I have nothing but admiration for you. ¬†It is a disappointment to realize that you are only human when you aspire to so much more.Remember, while you are focused on your inability to reply to all your emails some of us are amazed at how much you seem to accomplish in a day….

          2. Donna Brewington White

            I was thinking the same thing, Carl.If we could package and sell Fred’s productivity, we’d be rich!

          3. Carl J. Mistlebauer

            You have heard of “Fred Coins” and the soon to be launched “Fredville” game of building your own startup?Well, soon we will be selling “Fred Pills” which will be available at finer health and nutrition centers worldwide!Natural pills that will give you the clarity of vision, the passion to change the world, and the productivity of Fred Wilson.100% natural!

          4. fredwilson

            you’ve gone all existential on me carl!

          5. CJ

            Amen, I wish I had half his productivity and I’m just a little more than half his age.

          6. Gorilla44

            ¬†Fred’s productivity is one of the main reasons why he is incredibly wealthy.

          7. Lucas Dailey

            Man, your comment just reignited a¬†storm of angst I have¬†regularly.You’re absolutely right in the case of Fred. But there are so many, maybe most professions/positions that either don’t allow for “extra” work or don’t reward it at a 1:1 ratio.We need more disruption in business organizations and economic models.A few years ago I had an idea for a pay video chat site. Put together a list of your expertise and hourly rates for each. When you’re “open for business”, people searching for an expertise you provide see you among others, based on price and review and start a chat and get some meaningful help *instantly*, and people can unlock their full earning potential.Say you want to ask a plumbers advice for 5 minutes: $8. Or you’re building a computer and have a ram compatibility issue, some geek kid helps you for 10 minutes and charges you $5, everyone is happy!!OR you’re Jay-Z, you get done at the studio and you’ve got a half hour before your next thing, and think “I wanna make a G while I wait”, pop online and talk to some rich kids for $500 for 15 minutes each.Kinda like, but 1000x better.

        2. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          1. Patrick Foley


          2. FAKE GRIMLOCK


    2. K_Berger

      I never understand comments like this.¬† I think Fred clearly gets that he is blessed.¬† Actually, based on much of the Dwolla conversation yesterday, most of us on this blog are far better off than most.¬† But the same way Fred shares many positive experiences we wouldn’t have, he can share some downsides we don’t have either (although many of us probably feel this pain too).At the AVC bar, we can appreciate our friend’s pain, even if it is preferable to our personal situation.

      1. LIAD

        cool graphic dude

        1. K_Berger

          Thanks.¬† It’s good to have a graphic designer on staff.¬† I have no artistic talent.

    3. Rohan

      ‘You chose to blog on the most popular VC blog.’Wrong.You made your blog the most popular VC blog.

      1. Mark Essel

        And technically Fred’s job is not “giving money away” it’s investing. Anyone can give money way, selecting and cultivating large connected networks of engaged users is hard work.

    4. JLM

      Forget Fred, let’s talk about Mike. ¬†I have been exactly where you have been and what you are living through is often what the ground floor of success looks like.You can do it. ¬†I promise because I have done it and seen it done.Even if you technically fail, you have learned so much that will be applicable to the next time around. ¬†Life is a long game and you have 4-7 careers in you.Stay in the fight. ¬†I will be rooting for you. ¬†You can do it.

      1. ShanaC

        You’re a mensch JLM. ¬†That advice makes me feel better too.

      2. Mike

        JLM, Thank you – you are a gem.I mean no harm or disrespect to Fred or anyone else in this blog.I’ve been a long-time reader and participant.I guess it’s difficult to read about other people trivial problems when my house is in foreclosure, my business is failing, I have employee families to feed and I’m trying to fight the fight as you said.Again, I apologize.

        1. Carl J. Mistlebauer

          Mike,If it is any consolation lots of us have been in your situation, we don’t ever talk about it but some of us that fight constantly to be successful do so because we know firsthand what the hell of “failure” feels like.Its one of the key reasons I consider the use of the word, “entrepreneur” a fad today; until you have been in your shoes you cannot possibly have any idea what entrepreneurship is all about.After I went through the hell of failure, losing my home and business it took me three years to pick myself up and move forward again. ¬†Its hell and I admire you for speaking up. ¬†

          1. Mike

            Thanks Carl! This may sound strange but it’s good to know that someone else has “failed” as well – it’s dishearteniing.

          2. Patrick Foley

            I love the generous conversation your comment inspired … it’s a reminder that there are a lot of people out there willing to help, Mike. Add me to that list ([email protected]), and consider my buddy Bob’s “office hours” over at luck.

          3. David Braun

            Hey MikeI want to help you too. Let’s a kickstarter platform for helping hard working businessmen like you.¬†Please add me to the list too.¬†

          4. Mark Essel

            Perfect time for a little Teddy:”It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. “I think JLM introduced me to this speech.

        2. JamesHRH

          Handling the worst things well says more about someone than handling the best things well.The only commonality between success and failure is that they are both magnifiers of who people really are.Stand tall. Work through it. And, as JLM says, see it as the ground floor of success.

        3. Mark Essel

          They’re called first world problems. Make no mistake to each man and woman their own ills are perceived as mountains of pain.I’d like to help, please hit me up at messel at gmail dot com. The troubles of the small business owner are much more important to me than enterprise challenges.

      3. Donna Brewington White

        Me:  Sigh.  Exhale.

    5. kidmercury

      hahahaha this is a great comment man! i wish you the best of luck in your struggles. your sense of humor shows you have prosperity in some regards. 

    6. Guest

      Where is this nightclub?

    7. fredwilson

      i guess the post came across as complainingmy bad

      1. Mike

        Fred,Forgive me. Today, I had to tell 5 employees that I can’t make payroll and will possibly be going out of business. I just wish I had your problems.

        1. John Revay

          MIke Good luck, I hope things turn around for you, your family and your business.Peace

          1. Mike

            Thanks John.

          2. John Revay

            Hi Mike,What type of business are you in – Product or ServiceB2B or B2C?

        2. fredwilson

          i felt your pain in your comments yesterdayi wish i could help you in some way

    8. PrasannaKrishnamoorthy

      Hang in there – it’s darkest before dawn.

    9. Donna Brewington White

      Hey, Mike. I know that you have already received a lot of responses and a lot of advice — much of it really meaningful, but your comments really touched me. I feel your pain. It’s understandable that given your situation, Fred’s post struck a nerve and you took it in a way that’s far from the point he was making.Anyway, I just wanted to say that I truly hope that things turn around for you. I know that well wishes won’t change your situation, but they can’t hurt. Many of the people in this comment stream have had times like the one you are describing. Some are having them now. Times like this can be moments of truth. And then we have to decide what that truth is telling us and possibly make new decisions. As long as you are breathing, you have options.I hope you will report back some day and let us know what happened. I hope it will be good news.

  49. laurie kalmanson

    i left a ***paper*** note on a dept head’s desk the other day. totally analog. i was tempted to draw a knob on it that went up to 11.

  50. CarmenDelessio… ¬†via Christina Warren at @mashable. ¬†She said:¬†Just gave these guys $100, hope they reach their KickStarter goal…this looks amazing.



    2. Donna Brewington White

      Wow, amazing product! ¬†I’m on board. Also, love that kickstarter uses amazon payments! ¬†Brilliant.

  51. LE

    I watched a little bit more of the Zuckerberg cnbc piece last night with my wife.Ron Conway was up saying something and I hit the pause and told her a story.¬†It was about how I wrote in the 90’s to Vinod Khosla and he told me to contact Conway about the idea I had. I was surprised that Vinod even replied. I also wrote to Tim Draper and he gave me a meeting.I explained to my wife that in the traditional business world (old school) the chance of getting someone important to talk to you was pretty close to zero unless you pitched something right on the money or it was important to them.But in the world that Fred and others operate in they never know who the next Zuckerberg is so they are under more pressure to ignore info that might say “trifler – waste of time”. ¬†Lest the guy they blew off ends up making money for someone else.I’ve been amazed at the people who have left comments here on the blog that are barely literate and Fred says “I want to hear your idea” or somehow engages with them.Lot’s of pressure. Not just to make money but to not feel like you missed an opportunity.

    1. fredwilson

      you nailed what’s bugging me larry



        1. Emmanuel Makris

          Whether your a VC or starting a startup 

          1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          2. Emmanuel Makris

            You have to keep an eye on the present as well as the future. You never know where the next idea/opportunity is¬†going¬†to come. It’s a double edged sword in a VC’s case, especially a prolific one. ¬†You get much more insight into ideas/where the world is going, however all of this information must be sorted and digested. However the comment section of avc/hackernews seems to be closing the gap for access between ¬†VC and¬†entrepreneur.

        2. fredwilson

          did you see what went down on kickstarter yesterday?i think this may be an inflection point in terms of the way people think about kickstarter

          1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          2. JamesHRH

            $1M means LouisCK thinks about KS next time.Extremely important threshold. 32,000 donors pretty amazing too.

        3. JamesHRH

          @fredwilson:disqus¬†there is an interview with Bill Murray out there, who was apparently famously oblivious to opportunities (agent yelling into his voicemail “CALL ME ABOUT THIS ROLE!!!” only to find out Bill did not check his voicemail, etc………)He has regrets.@FakeGrimlock:disqus¬†you are only one dino, chasing awesomeness for you. Awesomeness acquired = success. Awesomeness of others does not directly effect your awesomeness (LPs don’t talk to you about it, for one).Not quite so for Fred.Although, on the whole, you are right FAKE #forwardonly

  52. David Petersen

    I get far more emails per day than I am capable of handling. ¬†I regularly miss 30% of emails that people expect me to respond to. ¬†They get pissed. ¬†Then they continue to send me emails. ¬†I continue to miss 30% of them. ¬†They continue to get pissed. ¬†I’ve tried the alternative — rigorously going through every single email, archiving the ones which I have handled. ¬†That is an endless black hole of time that robs my productivity.It’s a frustrating issue.

  53. Johan J.

    Fred, I know you want to vent, so please do not read this### For the people who want to solve this ###Email is cheap, handling isn’t, information fatigue is a problem we all face. We can¬†recognize¬†spam and priority email through Bayesian rules and other computer learning.How would “intelligent” email look like?- Auto detected: For information, Action, question- Trusted person, direct collegue, family- Tone of email urgent, casual- Amount of time sender has been saying same thing- Count of emails beforeFred is right that email is personal, but there are many millions saved when he deletes only the worst 70% of his email, and a computer could really randomize this process. (all other things being equal). Even a auto-reply => which purpose, what do you want? would save some times from the manager.Voting a message “up” or down on percieved urgency would tweak this system. Would the user feel less guilty when he personally deleted his messages, instead of his email filtering did this for him? On delete a message could be send “I am sorry, i deleted your message, please go here to enter a summary”. Or “this took already 72 hours, i will not be able to make this”

    1. Cynthia Schames

      @twitter-14972311:disqus¬† I’m liking a lot of where you’re going with this.

  54. David_Ragone

    This discussion is fascinating to me because it is demonstrating the many different ways in which people are responding to their email problem. For a communication format that does not appear to have changed significantly since its creation, it seems to me that there are varying degrees of pain and numerous solutions. Fred, I am sorry to hear that even with all these you are still overwhelmed by email, and I applaud the continued effort and dedication. 

  55. leigh

    haha — so i have an hour to kill before a huge presentation – and I was like – I’m going to clean out email bc it’s got outta control –¬†of course instead of doing that, i came here to see the latest AVC post.

  56. raycote

    “Please send it again. That will increase the chances I will see it.”REALLY ?;-o)

  57. BradDorchinecz

    I’m not an entrepreneur or technologist, but has anyone thought of installing a feature into email where you get a return receipt telling you how many unanswered emails the recipient has?¬† It could serve as a quick guage of when you could expect a response.¬† There are probably a lot of downsides to this that I’m not thinking of, but just a thought.

    1. fredwilson

      that’s a cool idea901 right now

      1. Brad

        I had a customer tell me once he was too busy to read emails. Ten minutes later he was complaining that he did not get our report. We explained that we had sent it to him two weeks earlier. He then said that he had over 1500 unread emails and that we could not expect him to read all of them. We had no answer for the guy.If I got an email that said that he had 1500 unread, I would stop sending him emails. Downside to that is that we would not know where to send our report.

  58. another cultural landslide

    I get a giggle every time some goofy pundit says “Email is dead/dying.”And then I look at my InBox & cry.I think those pundits’ InBoxes look like Fred’s – and they’re just practicing a form of wishful thinking.And even though I don’t (and probably will never) email Fred, I’m glad he puts up posts like these.¬†Being a human: Rules. (Except around FAKEGRIMLOCK, in which case you’re a snack.)

    1. ShanaC

      don’t mention to FG that you’re a snack (otherwise he may eat you)

      1. another cultural landslide

        We unfortunately discovered that fact way too late.At first, we thought he was just a big, cuddly robot dinosaur – y’know, kind of a metal-version of Barney, ‘cept he wasn’t purple.We know better now.¬†(We’ve since found it’s better to try to keep him entertained; or when that fails, wrap our neighbors in bacon and run away.)

        1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          1. another cultural landslide

            No fooling intended, metal overlord. We just don’t want to take any chances… in case you change your mind. Besides, our neighbors are nice, slow & fat. Wrapping them in bacon just makes them tastier. Think filet.

  59. Otto

    Most of my email inboxes are becoming like my regular mail box… a distribution method for junk mailers.It’s not that I see email as a complete waste of time, but it no longer suits me as a collaborative or creative communications tool. I’m starting to get far more value from sharing ideas with communities such as this or Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, etc., regardless if I know a person or not. It turns out that my friends and family get more value out of me this way because I bring a lot more to the dinner table, now that I’m more public with my creative process and communication.

  60. paramendra


  61. paramendra

    Are you talking about the general Inbox or the Priority Inbox? If you are doing 30% with the Priority Inbox, that is a problem. (Or maybe not) Otherwise breathe easy. 

    1. fredwilson

      priorityeverything else is like a spam folder for mei dont’ go near it

      1. paramendra

        ha ha!

  62. paramendra

    The Email Conundrum

  63. paramendra

    Fred Wilson. I sent you an email. Did you get it? ……. Never mind.¬†

  64. jason wright

    Is being a VC like being a hamster?¬†Disqus, if we’re allowed.Going forward and to save our host some of his valuable time I’ll be ending my AVC entries with ‘NRN’ when I feel that no reply is necessary.NRN.

  65. kidmercury

    global protest this weekend, february 11, against ACTA and TPP (latest SOPA clones designed to work via executive treaty on an international basis than by legislation on a national basis). you can find the local event in your area.¬†protests are in my opinion a poor investment. high effort, low reward. but i think it is worth noting, as finally people are pushing back a bit more. doing nothing is still the preferred choice for most people but we’re getting closer. the good news is that we don’t need a majority to make a real difference, every revolution begins with only a very small percentage of the overall population, the mainstream comes in after the early movers have done the hard work of establishing the product/market fit.for those who are interested, i would like to re-emphasize the viewpoint that this type of activism yields low returns. it is a negative message (fighting against something rather than for something) and is basically trying to take the incumbent on their turf (congress). the internet is our turf and attempts at establishing a private internet will cater to our strengths and offer us the means by which we can create a scalable effort to co-opt the population at large.

  66. johnmccarthy

    My father told me years ago that when his desk got too crowded with papers that he just threw everything out.  If it was important, someone would send it to him again.  It worked for him

    1. fredwilson

      that’s the email bankruptcy modeli subscribe to it

  67. Brian Paul

    ”¬†Please send it again. That will increase the chances I will see it.”I worked for a company that built niche dating sites. We sent a lot of email. Legally, not spam. Someone in the company figured out that, even if messages were going to the spam folder, if we made sure that there were 5 or 6 consecutive messages in row, all adjacent, people would still find them and open them.When I read the last two sentences of your post I felt this sudden sinking sensation on your behalf. I can only hope that common sense will prevail against ‘blocking out’ portions of your unread email list, banner style, with the same subject line.

  68. Max Yoder

    Rand Fishkin is solving this problem in an interesting way. He’s still early in the experiment, but he’s basically written one blog post that answers most of the questions that people usually email him. Now, when these questions hit his inbox, he sends people to that post instead of taking the time to reply with a personal message.

    1. fredwilson

      i only need to write one blog post then “will you invest in my startup”

      1. Max Yoder

        For what it’s worth, Rand is now calling the experiment a failure:¬†…

        1. fredwilson

          Not surprised



    1. fredwilson


  70. Michael Elling

    Caveat mittentis!¬† Sucks for the sender.¬† Email is asynchronous, receiver centric, free sending, store and forward, not real time.¬† All things to all people = chaos.¬† You are caught up and being impacted by the chaos.¬† Email satisfies the 4Cs of supply: low cost, high clarity, high coverage and high capacity.¬† And the 4Us of demand: easy to use, ubiquitous, universal and highly usable across many contexts/platforms.¬† So there is no getting rid of it.¬† That said, it can be made more synchronous by the top 10% of users; like you.¬† I am thinking something like an “out of band application”, like SS7, for email, to pull us all back from the anarchy.¬† There were some good comments that focused on the “send-side” and how email fits into the ecosystem(s) of communications.¬† Once again, fantastic discussion raised from something seemingly banal and ordinary.

    1. fredwilson

      i love the last line of your comment

  71. Emmanuel Makris

    You have to keep an eye on the present as well as the future. You never know where the next idea/opportunity is¬†going¬†to come. It’s a double edged sword in a VC’s case, especially a prolific one. ¬†You get much more insight into ideas/where the world is going, however all of this information must be sorted and digested. However the comment section of avc/hackernews seems to be closing the gap for access between ¬†VC and¬†entrepreneur.¬†

  72. campryenwater

    I was ecstatic when I saw this post. Not because I sent an Email awaiting response, but I was hoping for a lively discussion about how new products were going to change E-mail.I work in the government environment, where it is next to impossible to coordinate an activity with somebody without an E-mail. Too often my day is ruined because I am told “you did not cc: <insert person=”” here=””>”¬† Further complicated by the fact that I like to keep an original thread for a majority of people and then might have a side Email with someone else. That to me sounds like it could be replaced with a Twitter feed.I could imagine it works in the way that Twitter works:1. I start a new thread and and “invite” followers to the topic and send it to those that I reallyneed to see the topic. 2. Having created this thread I now have a core group that I won’t be leaving off any communication efforts. The people that subscribed can only get off the trail if they drop off. Unlike Email where anybody can CC: me and I stuck getting the message, now I have chosen to follow this topic of interest.¬† My inbox is now my choice for the CC: messages3. It has a ways to go, but a change in the government Email model will be good for all of us. This is a bright community here, surely somebody can build upon this.1.

  73. Paola

    may be a good idea could have been that today you asked to comment to just those who did not recive a reply, so that you could double check if some that striked your attention did not recive a reply

  74. Tracey

    You Can now w√īrk from home earning $45O+ per day working online. 100% Automated! Check for available positions here..MakeCash2.Com

  75. Eric Leebow

    Do you prefer someone send you a tweet? Just wondering if people are moving forward with Twitter as an alternative to email.  I know someone who sends a video every time they get an email and they let their emailer know they may never respond.  

    1. fredwilson

      people use every channel at their disposal including approaching me while i am at dinner with my wife

  76. Modernist

    Question for everyone:How do you deal with “gatekeeper spam”? ¬†What are your experiences with people trying to get to you through your friends?In a social web of “weak connections” and “intimacy economics” is this going to become more of a problem?

    1. fredwilson

      the double opt in intro…i do this without fail

  77. Donna Brewington White

    I love your idea of declaring email bankruptcy!Haven’t worked up the nerve to do it though.BTW, you’ve given a lot of hints about how to reach you via email over the years. ¬†While I don’t want to abuse this, there does seem to be a formula.

    1. fredwilson

      it is like a scavenger hunt. you need to find the clues. this place is a good place to find them.

  78. Lucas Dailey

    So as not to hit you with another tidal wave of emails when everyone takes your advice to “send it again” I’ll wait a few days.Speaking of tidal waves, I gotta get better about reading your blog first thing everyday; I’m a day late to read and 350 comments behind!

  79. Kevin

    I can’t control who emails me, and it isn’t a big problem for me anyway. ¬†One thing I do do though, in large part because I hate too many emails and I constantly see / hear so many people complaining about “Inbox 0” is that I don’t send nearly as many as I used to. ¬†I actively do less, by choice. ¬†

    1. Alex Murphy

      That is awesome.One thing that I like is when 2 or 3 emails can be consolidated into 1.  It is overwhelming to get 6 emails in one hour from the same person on the same topic.  

  80. Rick Mason

    Fred all you need is a little custom software.¬† You decide who you need to be in touch with on a daily basis¬†and their email is forwarded to a¬†new secret account. Note your return address stays the same.The rest of the email stays on the server to be dealt with by your new personal assistant.¬† You meet with her daily and she is your filter.¬† With time you will develop a set of form letters to answer a lot of the questions that you’re asked.¬† As long as your direct access list doesn’t get too long the problem is solved.

  81. Joel Cheuoua

    I understand your pain :-).Sometimes solutions are simple and we don’t get them … just send it again indeed.I know you said you don’t want to hear about any magical tool that makes email better for you, but how about one that makes “sending¬†again”¬†better for your contacts? details are here:¬†….¬†If that’s of any interest for you, I’d be of course more than happy to take as much time as you would like to guide you through it.

  82. Aloke

    that’s because the apps that process emails are not intelligent. perhaps intent detection like Cruxly would help. but most investors dont really care to foster that technology.

  83. Evan Prodromou

    Based on your estimate (that you only read about 1/3 of the email you receive), it will take 7 sends to get a 95% chance of you reading the email.I’m tempted to try it.Something tells me that “send me email lots of time” isn’t the best way to reduce your email overload.

  84. Actiance, Inc

    We definitely concur! Despite studies showing that in a few years’ time email will be replaced by texting, tweeting and other forms of real-time communication, we believe it’s already happened. Not only will Gen Y inherent the bulk of all wealth in the next several years, they will disinherit our outmoded forms of communication in favor of text-based “talking”. As a company, we help organizations enable social while remaining compliant and our core message is exactly what you blogged about – email is a black hole. In order to stay current, relevant and connected, you have to embrace social. That said, we’ll copy this comment and email it right over to you!

  85. JamesHRH

    Actually, I think this is more of ¬†philosophical statement, rather than one of ego or intransigence.Fred’s approach too email is open, egalitarian and hard to put in a box. You could be describing Twitter or Tumblr (even Dwolla?) with those three words!

  86. fredwilson

    I have an assistantShe is awesomeEmail, to me, is personalI’m not handing it off to someone else to manage

  87. BillMcNeely

    Someone who does email very well is Craig Newmark. He once responded to a Tweet of mine concerning Vet unemployment. He asked me to email him with more detail. Which I did. Unfourtunatly I felt the need to write¬†a 1000+¬†word¬† response. He responded first by answering my request. He then gave me tips on how to insure he responded in the future, i.e¬†two short paragraphs, send in afternoon, don’t request intros for investment purposes¬†etc.That dude is the most humble guy I have interacted with in a long time.

  88. JamesHRH

    its not

  89. Matt A. Myers

    Thank God.

  90. JLM

    OK, maybe it is. ¬†I am writing from Steamboat Springs where it is snowing and I can direct the actions of 40 business units in 4 states seamlessly. In three different time zones.I can look at cameras in the business units and I can “speak” via Skype.This is a great world and the ability to operate like today makes “working remotely” a whole new world.Not for everyone as your model may be different but works very, very well for me.BTW, I dislocated my shoulder on 23 Nov and cannot ski yet but my wife is out there for her obligatory 6 hours.

  91. falicon

    I believe Fred just uses Kik, Twitter, and a few other communication tools for his ‘insider’ networks…prob. easier than trying to manage multiple accounts that you’ve either got to log in/out of constantly or merge and figure out a proper sort for…

  92. K_Berger

    Emulate Congress.¬† Ouch.¬† ūüôā

  93. Vinay Pai

    If there was a “delegate” button that worked sort of like the “Archive” button that gets an e-mail thread out of your inbox and let your assistant receive and ¬†deal with those (and only those), would you use that?

  94. JamesHRH

    Hate to be sniggly, but Paul said “running the entire organization by ’email”.You are describing remote MBWA – which is totally different and absolutely why the web will have the social impact of the domestication of animals.It eliminates distance based time loss / presence loss.

  95. Mark Essel

    Sorry about the shoulder, 6 hours! You’re wife is a skiing machine. I crashed my way down a over crowded Pennsylvania slope for 3 hours 8 years ago and was exhausted. Beautiful scenery though.

  96. Paul Russell

    I think that’s an understandable and possibly realistic attitude, but the reality is that there are limits, particularly for those of us bootstrapping a startup outside of the day job. Sometimes I like to see my family too.I actually think that accepting that e-mail is not a guaranteed delivery mechanism is not a bad compromise, and I like the idea of time boxing your inbox processing too.Tomorrow, I’m going to block out two (separate) hours per day for e-mail processing, and do what I can to implement a system for finding the most important e-mails to deal with in that time.

  97. ShanaC

    I know a few people betting on the loss of distance.

  98. fredwilson




  100. Vinay Pai

    True, but a forward button is a clumsy way to approximate that and takes way longer.

  101. Drew Smith

    Your’s is the most apt truism in this ever-repeating thread.¬†No one, not a single soul, can do it all.(I’m chuffed at even replying in this thread as Fred said he didn’t want sympathy or advice.)

  102. Paul Russell

    Agreed. It becomes a process of optimisation I guess: What’s the most bang (enjoyment/fulfilment) I can get for my buck (time).

  103. Patrick Foley

    An Outlook 2010 Quick Step would make the forward-to-assistant one click

  104. Mark Essel

    Awesome Charlie, that was my gut response as well.