Unicorns, Startups and Hosted Email

A few days ago, @jack (currently the CEO of both Square && Twitter) posted a pic of his iPhone.

[original tweet]
 It struck me as slightly surprising that both Square & Twitter could be using Gmail. Both companies have a ton of talent who deeply understand message delivery and message queues. I wouldn't be at all surprised if both companies have people working there who worked on Sendmail or Postfix. On some levels, twitter competes with Google.. (if Google Pay is a thing, then so does Square).

Of course this is one of those times when you see a classic mismatch between "paranoid security guy" thinking, and "scale quick Silicon Valley" thinking. The paranoid security guy thinks: "So every time a twitter executive sends an email, people at Google can read it?" while the SV entrepreneur says: "It isn't core.. lets not spend engineering time on it at all".

I'm not going to make a call here on which route is better but i did wonder how common it was.. So.. I took a list of the current US/EU Unicorns, and decided to check who handles their mail. What you get, is the following:


Interestingly, about 60%of the current Unicorn set have their email handled by GMail. (A further 13.6%) have their mail handled by outlook.com (which means about 70% of the current startups with billion dollar valuations, don't handle their own email).
The list of companies using Gmail in that set are:
If we avoid the hyper focus on "Unicorns" and look elsewhere (like Business Insider's list of 38 coolest Startups) this percentage grows even bigger:


It is interesting that Gmail so completely dominates in terms of email handling, and it is equally surprising that so many companies so completely outsource this function. On this trajectory, it wont be long before we can stop calling it email, and can simply refer to it as gmail instead.

Ps. Anyone want to buy a book on sendmail macros?