Ever wanted to post a hilarious email thread or those pictures from a group message?
Twitmail now lets users share email content with their Twitter followers by uploading an email URL which generates a separate link to the message.
As a privacy precaution, all email addresses are blanked out. The subject line and first 100 characters of the email become the text that is tweeted along with the link. The best links are catalogued daily via @twitmail_fav, and the most viewed or ‘favorited’ ones feature on the Twitmail homepage.
The Middle East is not a region people generally associate with tech start-ups. Oil, uprisings, but iPhone apps? Surely that’s more Silicon Valley than Saudi Arabia. On the contrary, Saleh Al-Zaid, the 27-year-old creator of Twitmail, is just one software engineer in the burgeoning scene of Middle Eastern tech innovators.
Twitmail has become popular throughout the Middle East since its 2010 launch, with 95% of its users hailing from the Arab world. These users share 800-1,000 emails every day, generating 1.8 million unique visitors per month. As Al-Zaid explains, Twitmail has a particular audience in the Middle East because of the large number of people swapping humorous emails with their friends.
‘In the Middle East we have this culture of email groups’, said Al-Zaid. ‘There is so much content shared on emails only that doesn’t get the chance to be converted to a webpage.’
Much of Twitmail’s most-viewed messages are of a political nature. This frustrates Al-Zaid, who doesn’t want the site to centre around political or religious commentary.
‘Most of the topics are politics because of the Arab uprisings’, explained Al-Zaid. ‘Honestly, I don’t like it, but we have other great content that is funny and informative.’
Al-Zaid points to the success of Abu Nawaf, a site started over ten years ago. Abu Nawaf launched as a Yahoo! email chain, then moved to a Google group. Their Google group account was closed due to its volume (it has since been reopened). The email group has now moved to a separate website, where users send in their messages for Abu Nawaf to select a best-of and then post. It currently hosts over 670,000 members.
Twitmail may just be the next Abu Nawaf for Twitter. In 2011, Al-Zaid secured investment for the site from three private backers who now sit on its board. He eventually left his day job to take Twitmail full-time in October, and is now on a trip to California to get advice on how to grow his company.
This is the second successful site for Al-Zaid, who launched Untiny – a site that lets users generate the original link behind an abbreviated TinyURL. Al Zaid created the tool in 2008 because TinyURL is blocked in Saudi Arabia, making it impossible to open shortened links from Twitter. Originally only in Arabic, Al-Zaid soon launched the site in English.
So far, over 280 million links have been shortened via Untiny.