Giving us all the tools to achieve meaningful happiness.
Our business is making elegant software, infused with proven psychology, to help us absorb the shocks of life and become truly effective.
What does that mean in practice?
Understanding a life well lived (no fast food quick fixes!)
Our current culture pushes 'being happy' as a cure for modern ills, but in a form that is suspiciously inline with capitalist interests ("Do you want something now? Indulge yourself! Feel materialism is bad? Don't worry, consume an experience instead!") helpfully backed up by our biology ("Sugar, sex & status please!"). We've got nothing against capitalism, except where it intrudes upon real human happiness.
Because as best as psychology can prove, what we want isn't actually what we need. The things that actually make us happier require investing ourselves in something personally meaningful and harder won.
Actually, at the top of the spectrum there's evidence that the only thing that truly will make us happy is the Buddhist ideal of overcoming all human desires... but let's try and meet in the middle ;)
This is our guiding star for improvements: does proven psychology research say any given decision will lead to an achievably better life?
Capably handle even the unexpected, so you can take risks
So much productivity literature is about "do more! faster! and don't mess up!".
We don't believe that, we think being productive means "be effective". To lead a life well lived means figuring out which calculated risks will achieve the things you care about, and having the courage to handle the stumbles they will inevitably bring along the way.
What's the real way to achieve that productivity & courage? Stop being overwhelmed. Wave good bye to busywork and have the space to see what really makes a difference to focus on, and to free up time for both the unexpected shocks and living fully.
We also value systems & habits, stepping steadily in the right direction, instead of goals, which have arbitrary deadlines that become demoralising when we miss them.
Software that works with you to overcome human frailty
We want software that is elegant - in the sense of the least number of features that can still give you the most power. That playfully enlivens and brings out your talents. And that works where you already do, in tune with your natural rhythms.
Basically it almostly invisibly lifts you up, rather than forcing you to bend around it.
Guided by these metrics, we always think we can keep refining things to support you better!
Meeter, greeter, supporterer
Lisa delights in thinking like a user and member of the community first, and being part of ActiveInbox second. It gives her the extraordinary gift of empathy to listen to any problems you have, help you solve them, and fight your corner with getting requested improvements put in when Andy is stamping his feet.
Technical true grit
Remi's pen chewing and muttered swearing mask his talents as a remarkably diligent and fast learning coder - whether it's mucking in with Tom's cutting edge mobile code, or inheriting the decade old code of the desktop, he will curse his way through all of it until it can be delivered to you.
In the Venn diagram of inate aesthetic taste, deep interest in behavioural psychology and effective project management, Olly's one of the few that belong bang in the centre. What he craves is the Minimum Lovable Product - the most elegant way to push the ceiling on how software can be joyfully experienced.
Ear to the ground
Jason is simply one of the most pleasantly affable people to work with, which is why when we needed to choose who would proactively go and listen to our customer's needs, all our heads turned to him. Fortunately for everyone who wants to share their pain with us, he was naturally raring to get started.
Full stack wizard
Adhip was a Brighton local before wisely moving back to the (even) sunnier climes of Southern India. He's a gifted full stack developer who's become integral to our team.
John has a deep education in logic, and a big corporate resume, that combine with his extraordinarily effervescent nature to give us a powerful team process that keeps us humming happily along.
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We have grown from humble origins ...
ActiveInbox began almost by accident back in 2006. Andy needed a simple way to control Gmail for doing customer support for another startup he was building, and was inspired by GTD®. He knocked a crude tool together in a couple of weeks, then threw ActiveInbox (or GTDGmail as it was then, before the lawyers got all excitable) into the wild without a second thought.
But when people started asking to donate (when it was rarer, long before Kickstarter), and forming the nucleus of a community whose warm emails kept Andy going even when there was virtually no money, he realised that ActiveInbox represented something much bigger. We've been growing simply by scratching our shared itches ever since.
Most importantly, we only serve you - because we're boot-strapped, there are no investors demanding trade offs. (And it's no secret that every cent we've made has gone back into developing the product! It's been a lean few years, but deeply rewarding, mainly due to your letters).
And even though it started as just Andy, we've now recruited a handful of world-class developers and designers, from within the community of ActiveInbox users.
Come and share problems and riff on solutions in our public forum and blog!
... And we're part of a bigger movement
We want to do our humble bit to free folks from their shackles. So we can all do a little livin' & achievin'.
Forgive me, it's about to get lofty for just a moment... but we inescapably work on ActiveInbox - and our next product - in the shadow of the Big Hairy Problems. Those which, even if we don't dedicate ourselves to them directly, we should keep in our periphery, because they hold all of us back.
Education. We are doing an increasingly good job of teaching everyone literacy. But we're only just starting to teach ourselves how to understand our own psychology - so we can resist impulses, and perhaps, just maybe, stop a war (or at least, not punch a neighbour). I heartily recommend this book, despite the cover, for shining an engrossing light on our nature, and how society arises - for good or bad - from it.
Female Education in particular. The ironic thing is that the raving chauvinists, who demand entire populations of people go uneducated, don't even seem to grasp it's in their selfish male interest: the maternal influence being the biggest educator of the world's future offspring. If those gatekeepers could be swayed by a logical rationale, it's that education is a compounding benefit that snowballs through time.
Capital Concentration. The last 5000 years of history is one big tug of war between the elites gradually hoarding all the resources, and violent uprisings to restore the balance. Right now, in the capitalist era, we're reaching a high point of most of that capital concentrating in the 0.1%, giving them the power to take even more. Capitalism is great in that it's true to human nature, but it fails when some people are born with it all, and most with no chance of any. A high inheritance tax would break that concentration and pay for the education that gives everyone an equal start in a meritocracy. This is the way Gates, Buffett and Zuckerberg are already acting.
Employment. There are a trio of forces harming employees: capital concentration is giving immense power to the few, leaving the many being exploited to work harder for less; globalisation has been hurting Western middle classes for decades; and AI is going to blow through those that remain like a tornado. Potential answers lie in entrepreneurship and self employment, worker's rights, leveraging technology that helps people perform at a higher level to stay ahead of AI and globalisation, and perhaps - just maybe - Basic Income -- each would plant the seeds that help great jobs bloom.
And then there's email. I know, I know, it's laughably trivial next to the big ones. But it adds a little bit of stress and a lot of wasted time, to several billion people on the planet. Fixing that liberates those people to do a little less paper shuffling, and re-dedicate that time and energy to achieving a higher purpose. (And if it contributes to any, it's hopefully one of those technologies that help people stay in employment, as a technology that leverages their skills to the next level).
Unlike others, we don't believe email is dead - with a few tweaks it could be the future - because it's the only truly open platform that connects everyone.
And let's not forget the thing that underpins our lives: the pursuit of happiness. Which, to paraphrase Martin Seligman - founder of UPenn's Positive Psychology - simply requires fizz (short term fun, before the hedonic treadmill robs us of the rush), flow (being so immersed in mastery that you don't notice time passing) and higher purpose (serving something greater than yourself). The last one could be tricky to choose, but for me, it's repaying the debt to the society that made your entry to the world so embarrassingly easy, by leaving the planet in a slightly better state than you found it. You know, "for the kids".
On this front, ActiveInbox inherited a great deal of philosophy from GTD. Specifically to free your brain from overwhelming things, so you can get into Martin's flow state, and have the space to create, to work towards whatever higher purpose you care about.