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Old 14 Aug 2020, 08:00 PM   #1
Berenburger
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Podcast with Bron Gondwana

https://www.nomadfuturist.com/date-f...raws-the-line/
https://player.captivate.fm/episode/...5-8a6906c070a7

Quote:
As a boy growing up off the grid in the Australian bush, Bron Gondwana’s early exposure to electronics, and installing solar, and micro-hydro systems set the stage for his first forays into computer programming.

In this #NomadFuturist podcast, Bron Gondwana traces his evolution from coder, developer, and system administrator to his current role as CEO of Fastmail, a flourishing SaaS business providing privacy-focused email.

Gondwana discovered at university that he was good at Perl programming and jumped right into the workplace. Self-reliance and a can-do approach to problem solving have been key elements in his journey as a technologist and entrepreneur, one that has taken him across continents – from Australia, to the United States, to Norway and back.

He shares his experiences working in different size organizations and the vicissitudes, course changes, false starts, dropped projects and shifts of focus that are endemic to corporate life. He has observed the drawbacks of overspecialization and the importance of understanding whole systems.

Gondwana has a passion for open standards and open software.

“I learned the value of writing the standards, writing the specifications, writing the shape of things that people do.”
Gondwana is proud of his achievement of standardization of date format with the ISO (International Organization for Standardization). His commitment to standards has also led him to develop JMAP, an open source email protocol.


He does not see email as being replaced by social media.

“Email is your electronic memory. It’s your personal copy of things that can’t be edited by anyone else.”

Gondwana now enjoys living in Melbourne, Australia with his wife, two teenage children, and an aging cat! To balance out the technical life, he sings in choir and teaches group fitness classes.
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Old 14 Aug 2020, 10:34 PM   #2
TenFour
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I hate podcasts! Give me a short, concise, well edited written interview and I can skim it first to see if it is worth reading, and then delve into it more deeply as I have time. Podcasts you are forced to sit and listen to endlessly to only discover you've wasted 30 minutes on something you could have read in 2. Didn't listen.
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Old 15 Aug 2020, 06:54 PM   #3
Berenburger
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TenFour View Post
I hate podcasts! Give me a short, concise, well edited written interview and I can skim it first to see if it is worth reading, and then delve into it more deeply as I have time. Podcasts you are forced to sit and listen to endlessly to only discover you've wasted 30 minutes on something you could have read in 2. Didn't listen.
No scoops.
What I didn't know yet: Fastmail has around 250,000 paying users and 40 employees now.
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Old 15 Aug 2020, 08:16 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Berenburger View Post
No scoops.
What I didn't know yet: Fastmail has around 250,000 paying users and 40 employees now.
Thats a large number of employees for quite a small number of users.
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Old 15 Aug 2020, 10:05 PM   #5
TenFour
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If they charge an average of $50 per subscriber that works out to $312,500 per employee in revenue. Obviously, they have lots of other expenses, but it seems like they should be reasonably profitable. I wonder too if some of those 250,000 paying customers are organizations with multiple users, meaning the revenue could average a lot more than $50 per subscriber.
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Old 16 Aug 2020, 05:56 AM   #6
BritTim
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TenFour View Post
If they charge an average of $50 per subscriber that works out to $312,500 per employee in revenue. Obviously, they have lots of other expenses, but it seems like they should be reasonably profitable. I wonder too if some of those 250,000 paying customers are organizations with multiple users, meaning the revenue could average a lot more than $50 per subscriber.
My own expectation is that they are reporting the number of users, not master accounts. The distinction between paid and unpaid may well be because they provide free service to a few charitable organisations. I also feel 40 employees is quite high, but remember this includes those from PoBox and TopicBox.
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Old 16 Aug 2020, 07:56 AM   #7
Berenburger
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My own expectation is that they are reporting the number of users, not master accounts. The distinction between paid and unpaid may well be because they provide free service to a few charitable organisations. I also feel 40 employees is quite high, but remember this includes those from PoBox and TopicBox.
In the podcast Bron is saying ‘paying users’ (16:20). Revenue is $500k/month.

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Old 16 Aug 2020, 08:06 AM   #8
TenFour
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Quote:
In the podcast Bron is saying ‘paying users’ (16:20). Revenue is $500k/month.
With 250,000 users that's only $24 per paying user, and $150,000 per employee per year. Seems a bit low. Having covered businesses for a trade journal one thing I have learned is that numbers thrown around in interviews are often very misleading. Sometimes deliberately, sometimes not. I learned that some of the customer service positions at POBox.com in Philadelphia were only paying around $50,000 or less, which is a pretty low wage for the tech industry. Melbourne is not a low-rent location, and Aussies tend to get pretty good pay and benefits. They also have server fees, equipment, rent, and all sorts of things they must pay for too. I hope they stay profitable.
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Old 16 Aug 2020, 08:54 PM   #9
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I was really surprised that Fastmail had so few users. I was expecting their user/customer count to be in the millions considering how long they have been around and the quality of their service.
I suppose free email services and the slow death of email has capped their growth.
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Old 16 Aug 2020, 09:49 PM   #10
TenFour
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I suppose free email services and the slow death of email has capped their growth.
The "slow death of email" has been greatly exaggerated! Think of it this way. What person or business doesn't need and have an email address? I suspect the majority of Fastmail's paying customers are using it for business email, and that use case will continue to be critical. Most of us spend all day every day in our email inboxes at work, and even if we instead use something like Slack for internal communications we still have to use email a lot. Fastmail doesn't charge per email sent, but the number of emails sent each year just keeps increasing. I think the future of email is strong.
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Old 10 Sep 2020, 06:10 AM   #11
elvey
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I enjoyed this! Glad to be giving this biz my biz!
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