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How To Put Twitter Into Your Email

A review of Gist, Rapportive, and Etacts

Everybody wants their email to be better. I recently tested a variety of email plugins that focus on bringing social data into gmail. The short answer is: Use Etacts. Here is what I saw:

Three companies are the market leaders in the space:

  • Rapportive
  • Etacts
  • Gist

Rapportive has raised $1m from an impressive group of angels: Dharmesh Shah, Jason Calcanis, Paul Buchheit, Dave McClure, David Cancel, CRV, etc..

Etacts has raised $650k from Y Combinator and Ron Conway.

Gist has raised $10m+ from Foundry and Vulcan Capital.

Interestingly, I think this explains why Gist has seemingly much better marketing, but it fails to explain why Gist’s product seemed not as good.

Disclaimer: I was looking for a specific kind of added value. It could be that these products do other things that I just fail to appreciate. Most specifically: I am not interested in spending any time on other web sites, I just want my gmail to be better. Caveat emptor.


Anyway, here was the Gist UI in my gmail inbox.

I was looking at an email thread with my lawyer, so it shows his latest tweet and my latest tweet. Links to our facebook and twitter.

It also put the whole thing in an iframe out to the side. It felt like it loaded a lot slower than other things. While I bet owning an iframe is a lot easier from a backend support perspective – you don’t break when they change gmail, it felt a lot more web 1.0 than the other solutions.


Rapportive was well implemented, but had no features. It successfully found that I am LinkedIn to Mike, but didn’t include tweets. All it really lets me do is easily click through to Twitter/LinkedIn/Facebook and record a note about a person – kind of CRM-ish.

Both Etacts and Rapportive integrate neatly into the gmail pane so I barely notice they are there unless I want data.


Etacts is the easy winner, hands down. It identifies that we are LinkedIn and shows me shared connections. It shows me several of his last tweets, and it shows me other related threads. Finally, they offer me the “Remind me to contact” feature (a note feature similar to Rapportive was below the fold here), which I am actually intrigued by – I should stay in contact with people better than I do.

3 Responses to “How To Put Twitter Into Your Email”

  1. pete Says:

    that “remind me to contact” feature is causing me to install etacts right now. i can’t function without a tickler file, and right now, the least bad solution i’ve found has been to use google’s anemic task management (or outlook, which is better, but not as good as this). good find.

  2. Adam Bachman Says:

    Rapportive doesn’t pull connection info or track email history, but it does pull some LinkedIn info and it’s got Twitter feed integration (e.g., occasionally.

    I also like that it shows and links to other social network presences. I’ve even found a few contacts with Friendster accounts through it.

    Etacts looks handy though, both are super handy tools.

  3. brent Says:

    So Adam, what do you do when you find a friend with a Friendster account? Make fun of them?

    Pete, you will like etacts web integration as well, then. I actually got a little something out of it, which is more than I can say for the other sites. Adding value instantly is a key to success in this space, as most markets.