Astro is making its debut today with a smart email app and a bot that chats with you about trends in your activity, missed tasks, and networking opportunities.
Both Astro and its Astrobot assistant are available for download for Mac and iOS for the first time today.
The company formed in 2015 and has raised $8.3 million in a funding round that is also being announced today.
“This is sort of a communications assistant,” said cofounder Ross Dargahi. “As things are happening in different places, no matter what you’re focused or working on at that moment, you’re learning about things. It’s following you and telling you and pulling together all these different data sources to give you that real, thick, crisp signal and getting rid of the noise.”
Astro offers many of the features you find in modern email clients. You can snooze messages, label VIPs, unsubscribe from newsletters, or schedule emails to send at a certain time, but it begins by prioritizing email sent to you by real people.
“There are a few things that go into the algorithm, but typically it’s messages from real people to you, not from distribution lists or newsletters or system-generated notifications,” said cofounder and CEO Andy Pflaum.
And as Astro tracks your email over time, Astrobot gets smarter.
“We’re learning based upon your behavior and interactions with people what really belongs in that priority. And the user can also classify things as important or unimportant,” Pflaum said.
Astrobot sits directly below your inbox and offers prompts and insights based on your activity.
The bot will also chat with you about tasks mentioned in old emails that appear to be left undone or flag unanswered questions.
It may ask if you want to change settings based on your activity, so if you speak with someone often you may be asked whether you’d like to make them a VIP, and if you regularly snooze emails from a particular address until after work, it may ask if you want to save all messages from that email until after work hours.
It also helps you make connections. With Astrobot, a user can search for a name or contact and the bot will bring back information about their LinkedIn and personal social media accounts. And if a friend or colleague also uses Astro and they know someone you’re trying to reach, the bot may ask your friend to make a warm introduction.
In the future, Astro plans to incorporate datasets from other sources to enhance the social web and add to the data that can be drawn from a person’s email interactions.
“Obviously, we’re enhancing the bot constantly. But what we’re really excited about also — as I mentioned earlier — [is that] there’s a lot of ecosystem around it, from CRM systems to CSS systems to ticketing systems. They can provide a lot of intelligence, and, in fact, do, and we can leverage it to enhance that signal,” Dargahi said.
Astro and Astrobot cover several features, but one AI not included at launch is calendaring. Bots that help you with calendar events — like Amy and X.ai — have been synonymous with AI assistants in email. However, scheduling is on Astrobot’s roadmap.
“We can’t talk about it too much, but I can say yes, we are looking at it from an Astro perspective, so it’s not just from any plain old scheduling AI. Again, how do we bring this system in, how do we make it help you deal with your calendar flow?” Dargahi said.
Cofounders Andy Pflaum, Ross Dargahi, David Connelly, and Roland Schemers first worked together as cofounders of open source email client Zimbra, which was acquired by Yahoo in 2007.
The $8.3 million round for Astro was led by Redpoint Ventures, with participation from Aspect Ventures and Upside Partnership.
Astro is based in Palo Alto, California. The company has 12 employees.