Chicago.com launches @Chicago email identity product with BuiltinChicago

Josh Metnick
Dear BuiltinChicago Members: We are excited to launch Chicago.com's first ever digital product. It's a privilege to be able to give BuiltInChicago.org members a first look at our @Chicago identity product, available at http://identity.chicago.com with access code: builtinchicago. The site will be open for registration seven days, then we will close it down for a couple months to retool. We call it an "email identity" product as distinct from "email" or "email services," as our product focuses purely on the identity layer within email-- enabling, for example, somebody with an email such as robert.smithberg224@notverygooddomain.com to own bob@chicago.com or roberts@chicago.com without having to change your existing email provider. @Chicago is agnostic as far as underlying email provider and integrates seamlessly with Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, Live.com, Outlook as well as iPhone and iPad native mail apps.  Nearly everything to the left of the @Chicago.com is available. Additionally, we treat @Chicago.com email addresses like domain names-- discrete, liquid digital assets that have a market value based upon a supply/demand curve we have been mapping out the last year. Every identity is a unique item, and the marketing value of a simple, brandable, permanent and portable online identity is valuable. Prices range from an average cost of $55/year to several thousand $, depending on a name's demand, liquidity, length and other variables (e.g., special pricing for Non-Profits). We will be launching a secondary market for the identities in April of this year, similar to a Sedo.com or Afternic. Ammar Kubba, founder of Aftermarket.com, is the main investor in our technology. This is the first real "product" in Chicago.com's ten years, and the amount of support and feedback we have received over the past nine months has been tremendous. Special thanks to Anthony Buglio, who, if it weren't for him turning down an offer for $1,000 for tony@chicago.com at a time in Chicago.com's history when we really could have used the cash, this entire product may not have happened.  Tony's simple refusal to sell the name for less than several thousand dollars paved the initial road to this product, and opened our eyes to the value of these identities. Double Gold Star Super Thanks to: Howard Tullman, JB Pritzker, Matt Moog, Peter Fox, David Flando, Kevin Helliker, Keith Amonlirdviman, Sam Benediktson, Thomas & Dana Johnson, Chris McAvoy, Sean Miller of NYC.com, Jim Warren of the NYTimes, Dan Pulcrano, Ammar Kubba, Andrew Mason (for the Axure.com suggestion...), Yuval Degani, Daniel Marks, David Ormesher, Adam Hecktmam, Pete Georgiadis, Erhard Chorle, Phil, Noah, Igor & Jeff @ Doejo, and my board of directors, Karl & Mike.  Oh :) and Vujadin, Lindsey & Kelly @ Chicago.com!! Gold Star Thanks to our team of tech advisors as well: https://identity.chicago.com/pages/tech.  Each and every one of these individuals has had some effect, some input into this product and the direction we are taking it. Chicago's software ecosystem is thriving, and over the next several years we plan on developing, from the ground up, a new website worthy of carrying the name of one of the truly great cities of the world, Chicago. Official press release: http://bit.ly/z1n0Uj Product feedback, + or -, is welcome directly to josh@chicago.com or our staff at staff@chicago.com. Kind Regards, Josh Josh Metnick Chairman & CEO Chicago.com, Inc. josh@chicago.com

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Comments

Matthew Kemp

Josh,

  Sending an email to you, let's hook up.  I'm interested to hear more, no need to preach free vs 'free' as I have been following open source since my first Slackware install in 1995.

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Matthew P Kemp

Josh Metnick

Matt, feel free to contact me at josh@chicago.com, I would like to hear your thoughts on this thank you. Otherwise, I suppose stay tuned... You may want to check out the DNJournal.com article on Monday or Tuesday, it will go into more detail.

If email were a commodity, then josh@chicago.com would be equally as valuable to me as josh.lastname74@yahoo.com. I value my josh@chicago.com email more than the latter. Our customers feel similarly with their names. Some people don't.

My birth certificate and my passport don't say "Yahoo!" or "Facebook" -- they say "Chicago".

The bigger question is: Do you actually think your Yahoo! And your Gmail account are "free"? We have a very different approach to making money from our users-- we don't sell your information, your individual consumer data. We charge up front for the email on a subscription basis.

Regards,

Josh

Matthew Kemp

Josh,

  I'd love to hear your road-map as I am still not quite following your value proposition (and either are people on my facebook or twitter feeds [and most of them are Chicago technologists]).  I am who I am, no matter what my email address is, and again my social footprint is much stronger than my email address.  And the whole 'you need an email to signup for services' is fairly weak as it is easy to use throw away email to signup for any of those services, and the whole idea behind them is to build yourself (not your email address) as they may change over time.  

Something that really throws me is the concept of this being an identity service and then the identity will be valued by the market.  If I have my identity, why would I ever sell it?  I'm hoping selling it would completely devalue it as it is no longer the identity that I built.  (Which creates a bit of a problem for the secondary market.)

I think the whole issue right now is your value proposition is not clear.  What am I getting besides an email address?  You just said that you believe an email address is an identity... mac.com was $99/year at one point and now that is free as MobileMe.

Email is a commodity, plain and simple.

Matthew Kemp

Adam,

  Thanks for the response.  I guess I see a social footprint as an identity and not just a @domain.com email address.  I am very passionate about Chicago, after all it's on my birth certificate and I have never left!  But I guess I'm still grappling with the email address as an identity.  I typically use a combination of social platforms as my identity, and utilize email as a communication means.

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Matthew P Kemp

Adam Hecktman

I did not receive discounts.  I signed up for 5 years.  I see it as more than a vanity - I see it as identity and a way to identify with the city I am passionate about.  If I were a commercial organization based outside of Chicago , I would see it as a way to establish a local identity in a local market.  Plus, it doesn't suck that I got my first name @chicago.com.

Matthew Kemp

Adam,

  Just curious, as an tech advisor, did you receive any discounts?  Because I've been trying different combinations of my name and it keeps coming up around 295$/year for a single year!  If I do 10 years, it's 175$/year!  And I still don't understand what I get besides a vanity email address!  I'm interested in the service, the value proposition just isn't apparent!

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Matthew P Kemp

Adam Hecktman

Mazel Tov on this, Josh. 

 

I proudly sign off as,

adam@chicago.com

 

Matthew Kemp

Josh,

  I guess I'm interested to see how this goes, but I would never pay for an email address (never have and have had an email address since 1994).  If I wanted a unique identity, I would purchase a domain for less than 55$/year and setup email through google hosted domains for free (which offers other services than just email hosting at no cost).  I guess I don't understand your product, as it doesn't differentiate form a vanity email and has a premium cost that IMHO does not meet the value received.

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Matthew P Kemp

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