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You’ll rarely hear anyone say that you’re over-communicating. But what you will hear is that with the influx of communication platforms, especially when it comes to messaging and email services, there are more ways to communicate than ever before, and that causes some trickle-down effects. With so much data and messages coming and going through a system, and emails clogging out your in an outbox, finding a way to sift through each of those messages, decipher it, and identify what is meaningful is becoming increasingly more difficult.

“Email has over 3 billion active users today and is rapidly growing, It will be over five and a half billion by 2025. That intuitively makes sense. Everyone with a smartphone has an email address, everyone with internet access at all, has an email address. And it’s this repository of not only all your personal activity, but it’s absolutely the database of how you run your business and do a lot of interaction from there across your calendar, across your address book, across your email, it handles a lot of information going in and out of it as a natural jumping-off point.”

Gleb Polyakov is the CEO and co-founder of Nylas, where he leads strategy, operations and product innovation for the company’s communication API platform. On this episode of IT Visionaries, Gleb details how he led Nylas through a pivot moment three years ago when the product shifted from a consumer-facing software to a backend API. Plus, Gleb details how your first idea is never your best one.

Main Takeaways

  • If It’s Not Right, Fix It: Even if you have a company that is showing signs of growth and the metrics are positive but the peripheral numbers are not saying what you think they should be saying, don’t be scared to pivot and head in a different direction. The first idea for any company is not always going to be the most successful one. Keep iterating and keep building to find out what works best for your company.
  • An Unstructured Mess: Finding a way to sort through data when it comes to communication platforms remains one of the most challenging and reliable obstacles for developers. The reason? Understanding how to decipher emails and text messages, and understanding various forms of language is difficult to pick apart.
  • A Tipping Point: The communication sector remains at a tipping point. As more and more software services provide chat and messaging services, finding a way to properly decipher and break down the data in those messages is growing in importance with few providers that can properly and reliably source that data.

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For a more in-depth look at this episode, check out the article below.


You’ll rarely hear anyone say that you’re over-communicating. But what you will hear is that with the influx of communication platforms, especially when it comes to messaging and email services, there are more ways to communicate than ever before, and that causes some trickle-down effects. With so much data and messages coming and going through a system, and emails clogging out your in an outbox, finding a way to sift through each of those messages, decipher it, and identify what is meaningful is becoming increasingly more difficult.

“Email has over 3 billion active users today and is rapidly growing, It will be over five and a half billion by 2025. That intuitively makes sense. Everyone with a smartphone has an email address, everyone with internet access at all, has an email address. And it’s this repository of not only all your personal activity, but it’s absolutely the database of how you run your business and do a lot of interaction from there across your calendar, across your address book, across your email, it handles a lot of information going in and out of it as a natural jumping-off point.”

Gleb Polyakov is the CEO and co-founder of Nylas, where he leads strategy, operations and product innovation for the company’s communication API platform. On this episode of IT Visionaries, Gleb details how he led Nylas through a pivot moment three years ago when the product shifted from a consumer-facing software to a backend API. Plus, Gleb details how your first idea is never your best one.

Nylas is a communication API that allows developers to quickly connect their applications to every email, calendar, or contacts provider in the world by simply adding a few lines of code. Nearly 70% of the company’s customer base is accounted for by B2B enterprises. 

The best way to understand how Nylas operates, according to Polyakov, is that the software sits in the middle of any company’s technology stack and operates beneath software such as Slack and Zoom by providing the tools that those apps use to operate seamless user experience.

“Think of Nylas as more like an oil refinery,” Polyakov said. “We’re giving our customers access to this super messy, but very valuable data store. And then we’re giving them the high-octane fuel they need to drive their rocket ship.”

The fuel that is powering those thrusters resides in how Nylas is able to break down data, understand it, and then structure that data in a way that is not only reliable and useful, but then can be implemented at scale.

Finding a way to structure unstructured data, especially at scale, remains one of the more challenging obstacles for developers. And since there are currently limited solutions to the problem Nylas believes there is enough runway to see exponential growth. There is a reason that very few people want to play in this space, though. Breaking down language in the communication space is very difficult, especially when you factor in that you need a computer to understand where phrases begin and end while deciphering what is appropriate and the nuances of what is meant.

“[Breaking down sentences] is something that our brains do so easily,” Polyakov said. “The bigger thread is how do we understand, not just the nature of one message, but the pattern of interaction history between people. And how do we improve that over time? How do we add additional productivity, additional collaboration, additional engagement into that system? And the way things are trending is you have to do it through technology. You can do it through people, but it is just going to be a lot more work and a lot more expensive. If you’re driving for efficiency and growth, you’re going to want to do it through technology because it will free up so much more time and space just mentally for folks to get things done.”

The interesting thing about Nylas was that the company was not always supposed to be a backend API. Instead, the initial idea was for the company to act much like those top-of-the-stack services, where it would serve as a consumer-facing email integration software. However, after the first few years, Polyakov admitted that it was time to head in a different direction.

“The first two years of the company [we were] doing quite poorly,” he said. “The email client, the metrics were doing well and we got something like 400,000 users signed up in the first six months. We had a nice spike in revenue and we got a lot of interesting data. There were a lot of fun metrics we could point to, but there wasn’t a real path to a multi-hundred-million-dollar business. We weren’t going to build a multi-billion dollar company out of just this email client.”

That opportunity for growth came in the form of an open-source API that Nylas had developed and was beginning to take-off. After noticing it had a tremendous amount of adoption and use within B2B companies across a really disparate industry, the company decided to pivot after looking at the growth data it accumulated.

“We saw a tremendous amount of adoption and use within B2B companies across a really disparate industry that was using our product in that end,” he said. “We said, ‘Hey, the dynamics are much better here.’ The API space in general is one that is characterized by very high user retention, and as we all know, when you combine retention with expansion, that’s how you build a hyper-growth business. Why run your own data center when you can just use this one and free up your engineering resources to focus on the things that are actually giving you revenue, actually delighting your customers at the end of the day?”

To hear more about the struggles Nylas experienced in the early years and how Polyakov and company worked to pivot in order to find a sustainable solution, check out the full episode IT Visionaries.

To hear the entire discussion, tune into IT Visionaries here

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