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Austin Snail Mail Disruptors Outbox Shutting Down

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News
A fleet of Outbox "unpostmen" would pick up and scan subscribers mail. Today, the company announced it was closing.

Less than a year after expanding, an Austin startup is shutting down.

As KUT reported in February of last year, “Outbox picks up its customers’ mail, scans it, and makes it available online. … Outbox workers open and scan letters, catalogs and flyers. Customers log in to Outbox’s website to see their – now-digital – mail.”

At the time, Outbox had expanded its operations into California after testing its service in Austin. But citing a litany of issues impacting its service, Outbox announced today it was ceasing operations.

In a letter announcing the decision, founders Will Davis and Evan Baehr write “there wasn’t enough demand to support the cost model.” Those costs included a fleet of “unpostmen” that would pick up, sort and scan subscribers’ mail.

The letter continues:

“In the end, we serviced a little over 2,000 individual customers, had 25,000 people waiting around the country on our waiting list, unsubscribed our customers from over 1 million senders of mail, scanned over 1.5 million pages, and delivered over 250,000 requested mail packages. We also recycled approximately 30 tons of paper, enough to cover 86 football fields.”

Current Outbox subscribers can learn what the company’s closing means here.

Davis and Baehr say their Outbox experience is informing a new, as yet unannounced, project – one “that has already shown signs of success, and we believe it has the opportunity to be massively disruptive. “

Wells has been a part of KUT News since 2012, when he was hired as the station's first online reporter. He's currently the social media host and producer for Texas Standard, KUT's flagship news program. In between those gigs, he served as online editor for KUT, covering news in Austin, Central Texas and beyond.
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