Think Outside of the Inbox

With the pervasiveness of social networks and the conversations that take place within each, many had hoped for either the reduction in volume of traditional email or the socialization of the inbox. Instead, email remains as the world’s largest untapped social network, with Gmail and Google Buzz offering a glimpse of the integration that looms on the horizon.

While many are on the verge of filing email bankruptcy, innovation is focused on how to make email productive once again while introducing alternatives for collaboration and communication.

One such company is Threadbox, an emerging startup where I’ve recently joined the board of advisors.

Threadbox represents a way to get individuals, small businesses, students, teams, and groups, thinking outside of the inbox, while satisfying our dependency on it as a conversation and project hub. At its core, Threadbox turns your current emails into organized threads that live online in a secure collaboration network without changing anything about how you work today. It’s true purpose and value however, is that it really creates a plug and play social network centered around projects and individuals or teams using standard email to connect everyone. It centers the experience of communication, collaboration, messaging, events, tasks, conference calling, voting, and file sharing in one place – project-by-project and person-by-person.

Threadbox is pretty simple as it builds on how you work and communicate today. Everything starts with creating a thread online where you invite individuals using their email address. Each project receives a unique thread ID and email address. Each time someone updates the project by either emailing the ID address or updating directly in the online hub, the system triggers an email to everyone involved. Form there, all updates, and responses between the group are organized in one place but also include email as a way to send and receive messages. So, if you updated a doc and need the team to see it, you can either send it via email or upload it directly in the thread. Threadbox then sends an email to everyone else alerting them to the update. The team can then download the doc via the email they receive or they can view and comment on it in the hub without piling up messages in email.

It’s what it does beyond this that makes it interesting to me.

The point is that Threadbox can actually move you outside of the inbox altogether. Think of it as a Facebook for workflow, where you can create social networks around people and programs, creating different threads for each. You really only need to be in it when moving the project or discussion forward .

Visually, it looks just like a standard wall in Facebook. Everything is stacked, neatly organized, with an interface that is already familiar to most users. Just comment to start dialog or signal updates, upload files, or start an instant message if others are online – and everything happens in real time. It features direct integration with Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn contacts and you can also bring people into projects by sharing thread links with Facebook friends and Twitter followers. Instead of receiving updates in your inbox, you can install a simple desktop notification app that alerts you to progress within each project. And, it also provides planning and decision-making tools to make conversations and collaboration easier, faster, more engaging and efficient. I should also mention that it’s free.

If you’re managing multiple projects simultaneously, Threadbox essentially becomes a centralized hub for current status and communication across the board. It offers a new approach to workflow and real-time and right-time messaging, inspiring us to think, and work, outside the inbox.

UPDATE: According to VentureBeat, MySpace is in the process of acquiring ThreadBox

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Brian Solis is a digital analyst, anthropologist, and also a futurist. In his work at Altimeter Group, Solis studies the effects of disruptive technology on business and society. More so, he humanizes technology’s causal effect to help people see people differently and understand what to do about it. He is an award-winning author and avid keynote speaker who is globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders in digital transformation and innovation.

Brian has authored several best-selling books including What’s the Future of Business (WTF), Engage! and The End of Business as Usual. His blog,, is ranked as a leading resource for insights into the future of business, new technology and marketing.

Contact Brian



  • Brian Solis, Future of Business Forum, Oslo
  • Brian Solis, Future of Business Forum, Oslo
  • Brian Solis, Future of Business Forum, Oslo
  • Brian Solis, Future of Business Forum, Oslo