When we say that we are the original email deliverability company and service, we aren’t just blowing smoke. We weren’t just in on the ground floor of email deliverability, we are the OG deliverability company. The one that helped to set the standards. The one who created the term ‘deliverability’!
It all started back in the summer of ’03. Our founder and CEO, Anne Mitchell, had recently left her position as in-house counsel at MAPS, the first anti-spam blacklist, and had been brought in as CEO of Habeas, a startup that originally was intended to fight spam by using copyright and trademark law. The way it was supposed to work was that email senders would license a special set of email headers from Habeas, which only they were allowed to include in the email that they sent, and then the inbox providers and spam filters would allow email bearing those headers to pass to the inbox. Of course, spammers would copy those headers and use them too, and then, the theory went, Habeas would sue them for copyright and trademark infringement. Anne was brought in because she was highly respected in both the email receiving community (ISPs, inbox providers, and spam filters) and the relatively new commercial email sending community (email marketers, etc.).
Anne ultimately left Habeas after a year, however while she was there, and because she was regularly in communication with both the email senders and the email receivers, she came to realize that while they believed themselves to be at odds with each other, both sides actually wanted the same thing: to have wanted email delivered reliably to the inbox, and, as importantly, to not have unwanted email delivered to the inbox.
This is when Anne realized that if anybody could get them to sit down and talk to each other, she was that somebody. It’s also when she coined the term ‘deliverability’, inviting a half-dozen C-level decision makers from the inbox providers and spam filters, and a half-dozen C-level decision makers from the email sending side, to what she called “the Email Deliverability Summit” (later dubbed Email Deliverability Summit I, as it quickly became clear that second, larger Email Deliverability Summit was going to have to happen, and fast. That second summit was called Email Deliverability Summit II, and happened two months later.)
In between the first and second Email Deliverability Summits, Anne left Habeas. Because the second summit had already been scheduled, Anne founded ISIPP to give the Email Deliverability Summits a home, and a sponsor.
Shortly after Anne left Habeas and founded ISIPP, the commercial email senders and the inbox providers and spam filters started approaching her, asking her to have ISIPP offer an email reputation certification service, to assist with deliverability. The only reason they had signed on with Habeas, they said, was because they trusted Anne, and they wanted Anne’s organization, ISIPP, to provide the service. And that is how and why SuretyMail by ISIPP (later renamed to Get to the Inbox by SuretyMail) was born.
As a side note, the service that would eventually be known as Return Path (and then ‘Validity’) was started at exactly the same time as SuretyMail. A gentleman named Scott Weiss had left Hotmail, and started a business providing a very fast, high capacity new email sending appliance. That business was called IronPort. IronPort’s customers found that the email receivers were blocking their email, primarily because the receivers had never seen such massive amounts of email flooding their system, and so assumed that it must be spam. So IronPort created their Bonded Sender program, in which IronPort put up a cash bond, and told the inbox providers that if they ever found spam to be coming from one of IronPort’s customers, IronPort would donate that cash bond to the charity of that inbox provider’s choice. Bonded Sender was eventually spun off as a separate business, which then became Return Path. And as a side note to the side note, Habeas went under and its assets were acquired by Return Path. Return Path was acquired by Validity in 2019, leaving SuretyMail by ISIPP as the remaining original email deliverability company and service.
And now you know.
Anne Mitchell running Email Deliverability Summit I, July 2003
Press Coverage of Email Deliverability Summit I – Internet Advertising Report
Click here to read the full article on Archive.org
Press Coverage Leading Up to Email Deliverability Summit II – InternetNews.com
Click here to read the full story on the Clickz archives
Press for Summit II
Click here for full release including list of attendees and quotes from attendees