How SocketLabs is Evolving Email, with CEO Tim Moore

Total Run Time: 14:05

1:18 – Convergence of people and product: what makes SocketLabs different
4:00 – Bringing email delivery infrastructure into the modern age
5:54 – Leveraging technology, contextual data and customer support to improve performance
8:52 – Evolving email delivery infrastructure to address challenges high-volume senders face
12:00 – Getting to know the SocketLabs team: What is Tim passionate about outside of email

(Keep scrolling for a full transcript of the conversation.)

Evolving Email

SocketLabs was founded 14 years ago to simplify and improve the way high-volume senders use email. Even though modern technology and business has evolved, the reality is email infrastructure has yet to be optimized. Which means there is a great deal of untapped opportunity when it comes to email delivery for high-volume senders with uniquely complex and custom needs.

Our mission at SocketLabs is to change that. We combine our proprietary Hurricane MTA with world-class email delivery expertise to deliver the world’s most trusted, innovative, and intelligent message delivery solutions: including on-premises, cloud, and true-hybrid solutions.

Lauren Meyer, Executive Vice President of Product Marketing & Brand Strategy had the opportunity to sit down with our CEO, Tim Moore, to learn more about how SocketLabs is leading the charge in the exciting evolution of email delivery infrastructure. Tune in as Tim and Lauren explore the challenges high-volume senders face in the market today, and how we’re addressing them head on.

The Conversation

Lauren:  Hi everybody. My name is Lauren Meyer, EVP of Product Marketing and Brand Strategy for SocketLabs. Today I’m sitting down for a conversation or, I guess, maybe more of a grilling, depending on how you want to look at it, with our SocketLabs, CEO, Tim Moore.

I’ve got a few questions I’d like Tim to answer, including what compelled him to take the helm SocketLabs, what mission the company is striving for, as well as what everybody in Email Land can expect from the SocketLabs team in the coming months.

Plus, I’m actually going to try to sneak in a question about what he likes to do outside of working hours as well, if you’ll let me, Tim. So we’ll see where that goes.

But I guess for all of you who don’t know, Tim has been in the email industry for more than 15 years, having started his career at Return Path before digging even deeper into email strategy and deliverability with roles at Oracle, 250ok, Valimail, and now as the CEO at SocketLabs. Not bad for an email deliverability geek, I must say.

Tim is an active member in email industry groups, such as M3AAWG, which is a messaging anti-abuse working group that several of us in the company are very passionate about.

Question 1: What brought you to SocketLabs?

Tim:  Well, first and foremost, as with any email nerd, one of the opportunities we have here is to keep building really cool email technology, and things we could be using in our past lives as members and employees of ESPs. So I think when you look at the ESP community, that’s one of the communities we want to build for, because we know the problems they face, and we know the solutions that we can provide. So I certainly think there’s a lot that can be said for just doing that.

When I looked at the SocketLabs team and when I started talking to the folks over here, there were a few things that really stood out:

First and foremost, it was the people. It’s a really passionate group of people. They’re all really intelligent, everybody’s fast moving. Everybody’s really passionate about supporting our customers and solving complex email problems. So, certainly the team was one of the big draws when it came to SocketLabs.

Beyond the team, you really see things that show within the product itself. It is incredibly powerful. You have this on-premises MTA, and that’s a rarity in the email universe. You don’t see a lot of on-prem MTAs. But then what they’ve done: the team here has taken that on-prem MTA technology and put it into the cloud (as many have done). With just sending in general, you have seen some of the technology move to the cloud. And then you’re starting to see some innovative things, like our StreamScore product.

And so, I think when you look at those 2 items, what’s really interesting about them, and what I think makes Socketlabs most special, is the convergence of those two items: so the convergence of the people and the product.

And that’s where you really start to see the magic happen. What you really see there is this approach that’s really designed to figure out the best solution for the customer. So taking that passion that everybody has, and applying it to the products that we build, and finding the right solution that’s going to work for the customer.

And that’s just something that you don’t see everywhere within the email industry, so I think that’s the really unique opportunity that we have here. Is that we have this technology and this team that can work to find solutions that are going to work best for our customers.

Question 2: What did you mean when you said “Email infrastructure has yet to be optimized”?

Tim:  When you look at email as a whole, a lot of the innovation and investment that’s taken place in email over the past 10 to 20 years has really taken place in several areas. It’s really been the “who”: so, what audience are you sending to, and the “what”: what type of content are you sending? What type of subject lines are you sending? Different variables like that. And so you’ve seen a ton of investment within email that’s taking place in those two categories. Marketing automation companies have done an absolutely fantastic job innovating in those areas. And the progress that you’ve seen email really make over the past 10 to 20 years is incredible. But one thing that you haven’t seen a lot of people really focus on is the email infrastructure itself.

So when you’re talking about email infrastructure, you’re not talking as much about the “who” or the “what”, you’re talking about the “how”. And I don’t just mean that mechanically: “how is email delivered?” Although I certainly think that’s an area that there’s a lot of optimization space for. But I also mean, how do you get email infrastructure to really work for you and your specific use case? And that’s where you just, haven’t seen a ton of innovation within the space.

Lauren:  Yeah, totally agree. What’s so interesting is, we know what our co-founder and CTO, Bill Volz, has been working hard upon in the labs, but he’s truly taking our Hurricane MTA to an entirely new level that I don’t think anybody has seen, in that sense. So, as a marketer, I’m really excited about it, but I think even more so as an email nerd, I just can’t wait to bring that next level of optimization for people. So I’m really excited to be here for that.

Question 3: In addition to optimizations in email delivery infrastructure, what else can people expect from SocketLabs?

Tim:  One of the things that we’re really focused on right now is doubling down on the things that we’re already good at. Customer intimacy and customer service: that’s a strength of the company. So we’re going to continue to invest in that. That’s something we’re absolutely going to double down on. We don’t just support our customers, we know them. We understand their problems. We understand their business. We understand how they can maximize the value of our platform and really be able to use it, to suit all of their individual email needs.

The second area that we’re really going to be focused on in the coming months is going to be analytics, but not quite the way that everybody else is. I think one of the things that you see within email is, it’s really easy to say “Let’s focus on analytics”, because I think almost everybody does to some extent. Everybody knows that that’s something that’s needed within email. And that’s one of the great things about the email channel. All the telemetry that you get back from email is incredible. But I think one thing that you’ve noticed within the space is that a lot of times, people are more focused on really just showing you analytics without a lot of context. And analytics, without context — that’s a lot like a weather report. And so we don’t want to do that. Our approach is a little bit different.

The way we view products is that they really have three life cycle stages. You have products that show, products that tell, and then products that do. And the way we want to focus here, on data, is really emphasizing those latter two stages. So not necessarily focused on the show. That’s no longer interesting, that’s table stakes. What we really want to get into, is the contextual data. So how can you get data that’s going to tell you something really interesting about your business and about your performance? And more importantly, how do you leverage that data to take action and improve your business and improve your results? So that’s going to be something that we invest very heavily in here over the coming months and even beyond.

The last category that I would talk about here, is really leveraging that product versatility. So when I mentioned at the beginning that we do have the on-prem and the cloud technology, that’s a significant amount of email technology within the market. There aren’t a lot of vendors in the space that possess both of those types of technology. So what we really want to do, is we want to figure out how do we right-size that technology to come up with the best tailored solution for our customers. So what you’re going to see in that space is, you’re going to see a really talented engineering team continue to innovate and push the limits of what’s possible with email infrastructure.

Question 4: What are we doing at SocketLabs that’s different for high-volume senders?

Tim:  To truly answer that, you have to look at the history of email infrastructure. And so, when you look back 15 years or so, what you really saw was significant adoption when it came to on-prem infrastructure solutions. So you saw the large marketing clouds, or what today are the large marketing clouds, really focused on those on-prem technologies. And then about five years ago, what you started to see is the pendulum swing and the market really moved heavily towards cloud solutions. And so a lot of what kind of are the next generation of marketing clouds and marketing automation companies were heavily focused on pure cloud solutions. And I think what you’re seeing now for a variety of reasons, some of which are scale, some of which are related to privacy regulations, is you’re starting to see the market swing a little bit back towards on-prem. But what I think we have the opportunity to do is learn from what we’ve learned in the past. On-prem solutions did have their shortcomings, as cloud solutions have today. And so I think there’s the solution that really is best of breed. And that’s what we’re really focusing on establishing, is what a true hybrid solution would look like. How can you leverage the advantages of both, while ruling out the disadvantages that come with either. And so that’s really where we’re going to be focused on moving, is how do we start to apply that hybrid cloud solution to those that require that type of email technology.

Lauren:  I love that, and I think, you know, having lived in the trenches for so many years, and just having dealt with so many specific use cases for each individual sender, there’s just so much room for customization and there are brands that have that special use case where they do have the on-prem solution. They do have a cloud aspect, or they have some management that’s coming from another company, some kind of help. So it’s just really exciting to be able to deal with that and make improvements. And I think this doesn’t even get into the fact that you’re trying to hit the inbox. This is literally just to get it from our side of the fence to the receiver side of the fence. Right? So yeah, lots of things going on there.

Tim:  Absolutely. We think this is the true future of email. If you’re a high-volume sender in the cloud right now, at some level, you do outgrow the cloud. Conversely, if you’ve been using on-prem technology for an extended amount of time, there are advancements that have been made in that technology. And you mentioned that at the beginning, and that’s what we’re really advancing right now, is we’re taking a ton of steps to make our on-prem solution better and more modernized. And when you start to look at that, that’s where I think there’s a real opportunity within email. I do think that there’s a solution out there that is neither cloud nor on-prem, but is somewhere in between that’s going to really fit the needs of those ultra-high-volume senders out there.

Question 5: What are you passionate about outside of work?

Lauren:  Great. All right. Well, I guess we can maybe move on to the fun one now that we’ve gotten through some of that tougher stuff. If you weren’t chatting with me right now, or I guess, busy running SocketLabs, since you are our CEO, after all, what would you be doing? What are you passionate about outside of work?

Tim:  That’s an excellent question. So, my wife and I have two boys, a five-year-old and a two-year-old. So that keeps us busy with the overwhelming majority of our free time when we do find free time. So, certainly spending time with them. And we do live in Colorado, so we enjoy spending time with them up in the mountains. Traveling, as much as you can do with kids that age, that’s something we also enjoy doing. As far as me personally, the two passions I really have are cooking and craft cocktails. So, if I weren’t in technology and within email, I would most likely be in culinary school learning how to be a better cook.

Lauren:  Wow, nice. I had no idea and I guess what’s so interesting is when you pair that love of travel with your love of culinary things, I think that’s a great match. So, I’m curious: what would be — and maybe you can leave the kids at home for this one — what would be your ideal travel destination, if you could just break through this COVID thing? And is that centered around food, or is it something else?

Tim:  You know, I, I think I would give equal weighting to a foodie destination versus just a beach destination. So, if you can find a place that accomplishes both, that’s where I would be.

Lauren:  Makes sense. Sounds awesome. I’m now hungry and ready to go to the beach. So very, very much thank you for that. Stay Tuned

Lauren:  All right. Well, I guess that brings us to the end of our interview, email geeks. Stay tuned for our next episode where we’re going to be dropping our CPO, Brett Bair, into the hot seat. I actually have a couple of curve ball questions for him, so get ready for that, Brett. But thanks so much to you, Tim, for being our first interview and to all of you for tuning in. Thanks for joining us. And until next time, I guess, see you in Email Land.

Tim:  Thanks, Lauren.

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