Astro raises an $8 million Series A for its AI-powered email solution for teams

On the surface, Astro, launching its public beta today, is a nifty but not completely necessary email client that combines machine intelligence and a bot interface to improve workflows and increase the signal to noise ratio of mail for power users. But the real story is thatthe startup, backed with a new $8 million Series A led by Redpoint, is gearing up to pitchenterprises on itscollaboration platformthat combines AI, social graphs and integrations withcommon CRM, ticketing and group messaging tools. Astro, evoking images of Jetsons-era futurism, is a standalone mobile and desktop client for email. It has all the bells and whistles of a high-end Gmail replacement think snooze, send later, priority inbox, unsubscribe and custom notifications. But in the face of the bot-pocolypse, Astro is trying to sell users on the idea of an email bot that can act as the conversational interface for many common workflows like archiving messages and setting reminders. The reality for Astro and its competitors is that new email solutions crop up and fail faster than we can learn to accommodate them into our workflows were still getting over the death of Mailbox. But Astro plans to supplement its revenue in a very serious way by servicing enterprises, Slack style. Astro is launching its public beta today to get the email client into as many hands as possible. As the company builds partnerships with hypotheticals likeAtlassians JIRA, Salesforce and Github, the value of the bot interface will increase. Instead ofoffering up information that could otherwise be gleaned from a quick inbox glance, Astro will useweb APIs to aggregate intelligence and push it to peoplewithin their inbox, without forcing a new andawkward process onusers. In the spirit of LinkedIn, Astro built a social graph that enterprise teams can use to find connections to avoid the dreaded cold email. The platform keeps tabs on the emails sent by colleagues and can recommend common connections to use for warm introductions. And because tasks within email occupya majority of most workdays,theres arguably few places better to capture copious data.

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