Zumbox has raised $8 million in the first round of institutional funding for what it describes as “the world’s first and only paperless postal system.”
The Westlake Village, Calif., company is pitching its service as an alternative to both traditional mail and email. It allows you to digitally mail things you might normally send as physical mail, such as letters and bills. You can scan the object, or if it’s an electronic document, just avoid printing-and-scanning completely. Zumbox says it’s better than email because it’s tied to physical addresses, is more secure, has better multimedia support, and is a closed system, so it can keep out spam.
Zumbox plans to start a national rollout of the service at the end of 2009 and says it will reach 1 million homes through deals with local governments, media companies, and mail senders. However, I’m not sure anyone has really been crying out for an alternative to email. Judging from personal experience, I’ve found that email handles my letters and bills just fine; I only use physical mail to receive purchases from Amazon and other online retailers. Sure, I whine about email all the time, but not because I want it to be more like old-school mail.
The company previously raised $4 million. Investors include Art Bilger (managing member of Shelter Capital Partners) Rick Braddock (chief executive of Fresh Direct and former CEO of Priceline.com), Michael Eisner (former CEO of The Walt Disney Company), Bill Guthy (founding principal at Guthy-Renker) and Zumbox CEO Donn Rappaport.