All-hands Team Memo March 2024

Philippe Lehoux
by Philippe Lehoux

At Missive, we're not fans of meetings. However, we’ve just started doing all-hands, few times a year, to keep in sync.

The idea is, prior to each, I send a written memo about our vision, challenges, strategies, and roadmap – a snapshot of our current status.

After writing the first one, I decided why not share it with our customers. Here it is, memo numero uno.

👋 Hello team,

Things have changed a lot in the last few months for us at Missive. It's important that we all share a common understanding of our journey, our goals, and the path ahead.

Instead of lengthy all-hands meetings where only I talk, I'll capture our vision, challenges, strategies, and roadmap in writing first so you can participate and ask questions.

I wrote each section of this memo to convey specific insights or updates, designed for clarity and brevity. While some sections are brief, each is important. Feel free to engage with each part as it resonates with your role and interests, but I encourage a thorough read to grasp the full picture of where we stand and where we're headed.

On origins

In 2013, Rafael, Etienne, and I started working together on a product called ConferenceBadge, a simple name badge designing tool for event organizers. The product quickly gained traction, allowing us to work full-time on it. However, early on, regardless of sales increasing, we decided that was not what we wanted to do with most of our time.

We wanted to work on a more ambitious project, Missive. The initial idea, devised by Etienne, was: Could we create a collaborative email draft editor? This idea quickly morphed into the first Missive prototype, a full-fledged collaborative email client merged with team chat.

From its inception, Missive was a bold move. By rejecting a safe path for something more ambitious — discarding a successful, revenue-generating, bootstrapped product like ConferenceBadge to work on an unproven idea — many called us crazy.

There, I see two guiding principles, which I think we all should keep and apply forward:

  1. Level up: Build a foundation, a quick win, something achievable with your current means/skills. Then use this as a foundation to propel yourself to the next level.
  2. Long-term thinking: Do not limit yourself or your ambitions to your current situation, think long-term where you want to be, and start acting now.

ConferenceBadge was our foundation, it gave us the means and de-risked our path to working on a product normally built by teams massively funded.

On our long journey

For much of Missive's history, we were a small team of three, ruthlessly prioritizing listening to and delighting our customers.

Our process to decide what to work on next was simple: do customer support ourselves and set out to improve some of the bigger pains our customers were experiencing at that moment. This shows on our changelog, a long list of incremental improvements.

This process worked magically at first, we could fix issues at a speed unmatched by our competitors and ship innovative features at a blistering pace.

After 8 years and more than 3500 paid customers, it started to show its limitations. As we've grown, so has our to-do list. Not too long ago, I found myself knee-deep in customer support, with Rafael and Etienne tackling bug reports that seemed to multiply overnight.

The three of us, juggling everything, had become too big of a liability. We didn't have enough time to do anything meaningful.

Working on a project like Missive can be extremely satisfying when you have the space and time to experiment. Lately, we were more and more heads down, just trying to make things work.

After a couple of attempts at scaling the team unsuccessfully, we were exhausted.

Then, on a rainy November day at a microbrewery near the office, we each took turns, Rafael, Etienne, and I, discussing what we wanted and where we wanted to go. What transpired was that we were absolutely not exhausted from working on Missive, but mostly we were exhausted from doing it alone. On that day, we laid down a plan.

  1. Hire someone to help us hire. (Janie)
  2. Move from our gloomy shared office to a nice HQ. (in construction…)
  3. Hire someone to help us with customer support. (Philippe, Luis)
  4. Hire experienced developers. (Louis-Michel, Grzegorz, Denys)
  5. Hire a talented designer. (Arnaud)

Fast forward 5 months later and I believe we are on track. The team has grown, each of you brings something unique to the table, be it from past collaborations, as a customer, or through your work experiences. Your fresh perspectives and skills are exactly what Missive needs to leap forward. With more hands on deck, we're not just looking to distribute the workload; we're aiming to multiply our capabilities.

I’m confident in saying we are extremely talented and we have what it takes to make a big impact.

I personally set a high bar for ourselves, aspiring to be mentioned in the same breath as Notion and Linear; products known not just for their utility but for their innovative edge and the quality of their user experience.

We were a tiny team, now that we are a bit bigger, we are still going to punch far above our weight.

On mission

We have the ambition of being a meeting-less culture, that’s even why some of you were interested to apply to a job at Missive. Now to be meeting-less, there's a requirement, we need alignment, we need to agree on where we are going. To that effect I wrote this mission statement:

We are toolmakers. Our tools improve communication by breaking silos and ease collaboration. They are built for teams having an outsized impact on the world, like us.

Toolmakers love their craft. They are obsessed with the end result. They build in service of others. They don’t get lost in convoluted processes. They are always focused on creating the best possible product, in the end it’s the only thing that matters.

Missive 3.0

With more time to think, one of our goals this year is to redefine what Missive is. Aiming to make it not just a shared inbox app but a platform that helps small and medium-sized businesses plan around all the work that revolves around their communications.

This is how we’ve been using Missive at Missive for years now. But it’s not just us, our hubris, it’s also what our most fanatic users have wanted for years:

Etienne and Arnaud will spearhead this project and work together on UI improvements and improvements around task management.

Let me give you an example, a freight transportation broker using Missive will exchange hundreds of emails a day with businesses wanting to deliver parcels.

From these emails, hundreds of tasks need to be completed by different people. Currently, such a customer might use the basic task functionality in Missive to achieve this, but it's not an ideal experience.

They are most likely to fall back on using a platform like ClickUp or Asana to manage those tasks, alongside Missive. The feedback we've consistently received is clear: such users would prefer a seamless experience within Missive, where task management is integrated directly into the communication flow. The current task's implementation is too simplistic and conversation-centric. Once tasks are created, they are lost in the sea of conversations and there is no accountability possible.

I believe there's a significant market opportunity here, as virtually every business that relies heavily on daily communication via email or any other text communication channels could benefit from such a built-in way to manage tasks around communication.

We need to make this vision a reality on the product side but also to clearly articulate this via our brand and our different marketing initiatives. This will set us apart from traditional help desks.


AI is on everyone’s radar; it’s the new hot thing. To me, it would be a mistake to market ourselves as an AI product or define all of our roadmap around it. Of course, short-term it would be great, free media and a lot of attention. But long term all products will have AI built-in. This won’t be a differentiator at all. There is no moat in AI.

Now, I’m not saying it's not important, it is, what I’m trying to articulate it’s that AI should not be the main part of our DNA. We will experiment with it, we will create buzz with it, it’s just not what will set us apart.

On collaboration

As I wrote before, we were a small team, for a long time. We know we’ve developed ways of working that are not compatible with collaborating with more people. With the help of Louis-Michel, Denys and Greg on the tech side of things, we already started changing some of our practices.

I expect you, the new team members, to teach us, the original three, how to work and collaborate in a bigger team. But I expect us to teach you how to be mighty efficient. This will create tensions, it’s good and expected.

As toolmakers, our goal is to create the best product, not implement the best processes. The processes are only good if they help us achieve the best product.

On growth

Growth is the consequence of a great product. There is no shortcut. Any growth initiative should be about putting fuel on an already strong fire.

Historically, growth has been around 2%-6% month over month. We always had a solid stream of new inbound users.

This nice consistent growth, hides a darker reality, for every new users and existing ones who grow with us (seat expansion) we have a lot of users who churn, and usually, after a short period of time.

In this graphic, subscriptions = paid organizations. Above purple is good, orange is bad.

To increase our growth rate we need to work on that orange part and better nurture our inbound users. The recipe is simple:

  1. Better product (make it simple, reduce the confusion)
  2. Better support
  3. Better documentation
  4. Better onboarding
  5. Yearly plan
  6. Impactful brand/marketing
  7. Better product metrics

We need to be more deliberate and eloquent about what Missive is by simplifying the product and the message.

On our changelog

I got curious writing this memo and parsed the data from our changelog and generated a graph showing the number of release elements either tagged as New, Improved or Fixed per quarter over the years.

Points scored

The trends of both New and Improved features are decreasing faster than the Fixed one. With more and more technical debt and customers to care for, a tiny team can’t forever beat the odds.

On our tool stack

We use Missive, more than anything else, even when it’s not the best fit. We stick to it, we live with its weaknesses… then we improve it. This experience is our fuel; it guides us into creating a better product from a first hand experience.

We avoid using too many tools. Having a simple stack has more advantages than using the perfect tool for every job. The cognitive cost of learning and maintaining many platforms is high. Let’s not fall into this trap.

On the upcoming price increase

On Feb 28th, we announced a price increase. One goal is to make monthly plans more expensive and attract more customers to the new yearly plans.

The announcement email was sent to all ~6k+ admins and owners of paying organizations. We received 124 replies, with 34% neutral, 40% positive, and 26% negative, but none were hyper-negative. So technically, only 0.25% of users replied negatively, which is not bad.

Most of the replies inquired about the possibility of getting their grandfathered seats rolled up into a yearly subscription with a 20% discount. Originally, it was decided that if you upgraded to a yearly subscription, you would move to the new pricing. We decided it would be fair game not to do so. This change allowed me to reply with the following message, to which most responded extremely positively.

I expect to see a lot of customers switching to the yearly subscription next April and May.

On competitors

Who are our competitors? Missive being a pretty general email/collaboration solution, there are a lot of them. From Front to Spark, Superhuman and even to Intercom and Slack.

Should we care? No, we should always refrain from being obsessed with one or listen to only people who switched over to Missive from one of them. We are not copy cats chasing a space with a discounted product.

A lot of our users come from Front, just search for Front on this page to see. Because of this there are strong demands for us to implement their exact feature set. We sometimes do but most of the time we don’t.

We need to find our way.


The end. That's it, this is the starting point, what are we going to achieve together? See you all, tomorrow, at the 🙌 all-hands!

Philippe Lehoux

Philippe Lehoux

CEO at Missive
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