What Happened to Hotmail? The Rise of Hotmail
The world of email, and email services, has come a long way and now you can simply check your email from any computer connected to the internet as well as on any mobile devices connected to the internet such as tablets, smartphones and laptops. However, this hasn’t always been the case, especially when you go back to the 1990s when email wasn’t as mainstream as it is nowadays, with a more detailed write-up on the history of email to be found over at the highly regarded runrex.com. Anyway, back in the 1990s, to get an email account and access email services, you had to download a software specifically designed for this. This was not ideal since you had to pay for said software, and when Hotmail came into game, it completely changed the game. Hotmail was the first free email service which worked completely online through its webpage, which is something that changed the way people accessed email services as before then email services were not available for free believe it or not. Since then, the rise of Hotmail continued to gather pace and it has since been bought by Microsoft, been included as a Windows Live Service and finally rebranded and changed its name to Outlook. This article, with the help of the gurus over at guttulus.com, will look to take a look at the rise of Hotmail in a bit more detail.
Starting from the very beginning, Hotmail was a brain child of two Stanford University alumni in Sabeer Bhatia and Jack Smith. The two knew each other from the university and in their discussions, Hotmail was born. They visualized the idea in 1995 and within months they had already put the basic skeleton of what the service would be all about, envisioning that it would be an email service that would be simple, secure, easy to access from any computer with an internet connection and browser and most importantly, completely free as discussed over at runrex.com. They also deduced that budgetary-wise, they’d require about $300,000 to get the project up and running. The problem is, they didn’t have the money that they felt they needed and therefore they started to look for investors who would offer them the capital they needed. This was easier said than done, as most people they approached remained unconvinced on the idea, until that is, they met with businessman Draper Jurvertson, who offered them $300,000 for a 15% share of their company. Bhatia and Smith, who were working at Apple Computer Inc. at the time, accepted the offer and promptly made the decision to quit their job and focus on Hotmail. As per discussions over at guttulus.com, they then opened an office in Fremont, California and on top of the earlier investment they had received, they took out a bank loan of $100,000.
The financial injection allowed them to launch Hotmail in July of 1996. As discussed over at runrex.com, they actually released Hotmail on the 4th of July, the day the US celebrates its independence, with the date having been chosen intentionally to symbolize the freedom they felt this new email service would bring. The reasoning behind the name Hotmail is not yet clear, but there are those that claim that it was a node towards HTML, the computer language used to write websites. Given that, with Hotmail, you didn’t need a paid software to access your email, it was an overnight success and within a period of 4 months after its release, it already boasted of over half a million users. It was also showing great potential as far as marketing was concerned and it didn’t take long for investors to notice. By 1997, Hotmail was a hot commodity, with over 6 million users, and that was when Bhatia and Smith were approached by Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft. Microsoft ended up acquiring Hotmail in a deal worth about $450 million, a deal, which, as discussed over at guttulus.com, was the largest all-cash internet startup purchase at the time.
After acquisition by Microsoft, which didn’t change its name but only added the initials MSN ahead of the name to created MSN Hotmail, the rise of Hotmail continued to gather pace. What followed was the integration of Hotmail into other Microsoft services such as Expedia, CarPoint, MSN Messenger, and many others as discussed in detail over at runrex.com. The rise of Hotmail didn’t stop there as the possibility to open accounts in different languages including German, French among others was also added to the mix, which was well received. Then came another big milestone in its rise when Hotmail, along with all of Microsoft’s services, was integrated into one platform known as Windows Live, which is covered in detail over at guttulus.com. This accelerated the rise of Hotmail even more and by the time 2011 came around, it had about 360 million users each month as well as being available in 36 different languages. In 2013, came yet another milestone as Hotmail changed to Outlook and all Hotmail accounts migrated to Outlook, a new platform. This new platform features a more intuitive design and layout while also leveraging integration with other Microsoft services such as Xbox, Skype, OneDrive, and Office among many others.
The above discussion plots the rise of Hotmail from an unknown startup to Outlook, one of the biggest players in the email world, with more on this and other related topics to be found over at runrex.com and guttulus.com