Héctor Ramos

Threadsy: Unified Inbox for the Web

Last week, the TechCrunch50 event was held in San Francisco for the third year in a row. This conference puts almost 50 startups in the spotlight, giving them six minutes to pitch their business and then get drilled by a panel of celebrities, CEOs and investors.


So the big winner was RedBeacon, a service that allows you to locate professionals in a specific city and have your orders fulfilled over the web. Another interesting start up was CitySourced, a service that allows city dwellers to report grafitti, crime, potholes and other such problems to their city council as a kind of 311 service. I won’t go into CitySourced now, though, or go through issue of other Open 311 initiatives from around the country. I liked CitySourced, they had a great demo and I am looking forward to it being available in my city (fat chance).

Second place was awarded to Threadsy, and this is what I will be covering today. This company demoed a service that aggregates all your e-mail addresses and social networks into a single inbox. FriendFeed, you say? Not really. Threadsy takes a different approach.

You see, FriendFeed lets you subscribe to a person’s stream, which can be made of a huge collection of blog posts and web services. It feels like an evolution of Twitter, with its greater range of features and conversation tracking; perhaps the main reason it got bought out by Facebook. On the other hand, Threadsy is all about your services. It aims to create a unified inbox, where no more a friend of yours will wait days or months for a reply.

Have you ever logged into Flickr, only to notice that someone sent you a message four days ago but you never noticed? Sure, you may have seen the Flickr e-mail notice, and perhaps thought you’d deal with it later. Problem is, that e-mail is now marked as read, you moved on and forgot to log into Flickr.

Flickr may not be the best example to use, as Threadsy only supports e-mail, Facebook and Twitter at the moment. However, as you can see in the main Threadsy window, my stream is now divided into a inbound and unbound inbox. I can see all my e-mail, from various accounts, on the left, alongside any Twitter DMs, @mentions and Facebook notifications. On the right, I see a combined view of all my Twitter accounts.

I can reply by DM or public @mention using the inbox on the left without any extra effort. Threadsy makes sure that my messages are routed appropiately. This is called the inbound inbox - any message that makes its way here, is something that was sent to you directly.

The box on the right, the unbound inbox, displays all messages, regardless of the recipient. Which means that all of your Twitter and Facebook stream will show up here. One feature I really like is that Threadsy fetches the avatar associated with that person’s profile.

So far I am really liking the interface. Although I prefer to have Tweetie open and use Mail whenever I am on my laptop, I have found that this is the tool to use when I am at work, where it might not be too smart to keep multiple websites open calling for my attention. I only need to have one tab open and periodically check the inbound inbox to see if I have missed anything.

I am looking forward to Threadsy adding more service integration and this could be a big winner in my book. Will it be profitable? That remains to be seen. FriendFeed allegedly sold for $50 million to Facebook, since it may prove essential in helping Facebook compete with Twitter. However, who would Threadsy benefit?

You may visit Threadsy and ask for a beta invite if you wish to try it out.

Update: I forgot to mention that, in a similar manner to FriendFeed, Threadsy does aggregate all of your friend’s profiles. You can click on a friend and see a list of all their associated profiles for a huge range of services, not only Facebook and Twitter. I do have some issues with it mixing up my friend’s identities, but this is something I will probably take up privately with the developers and help them debug.