Embattled Evite Clones Startup Paperless Post In Quest For Survival

The first thing most people think about when they hear “evite” is “ad spam attack.” For years we all hated the service, but we used it anyway because it’s free and everyone else used it.

These days Facebook events has replaced evite for a lot of us. Facebook events doesn’t exactly scream “classy,” but at least people don’t cringe at the thought of using it.

For the last few years, though, a small startup called Paperless Post has emerged that lets people create beautiful event invitations online. Paperless Post isn’t free. In fact, that seems to be part of the attraction. You have to pay to use it, and just like certain trophy virtual goods that you can buy on Zynga games, the fact that there’s a real cost seems to create perceived value.

There’s been very little tech press about Paperless Post, but they get plenty of other attention. The NY Times has written about them at least twice, for example.

The company has sent some 50 million invitations, has raised $6.3 million in funding and is break even with 35 employees in New York and San Francisco. Marissa Mayer uses Paperless Post for her events. Metropolitan Museum of Art, The White House executive branch, The National Gallery and even The Prince of Wales have all used the premium invitation service.

It’s a fascinating case study against the notion that people will always choose free over for pay online services.

Evite Clones Paperless Post With Postmark

Copy/Paste innovation is certainly nothing new in our world. Evite has even defended itself in years past against services, including threatening a lawsuit against Socializr for creating a “confusingly similar” service.

It’ll take a little verbal dancing for evite to defend it’s latest move, though – an outright rip off of Paperless Post’s business. Evite’s Postmark hasn’t officially launched yet, but they promote it on the evite home page and people have noticed it.

“Evite’s Postmark looks like someone hired a programmer and told them to copy every aspect of Paperless Post,” says the person who pointed it out to me. And that’s true. The business model is identical – charge for every invitation sent, plus optional fees for specialized designs and other customizations. The pricing is nearly identical.

And the product itself is almost exactly the same as well. Compare the design and opening animation of a Paperless Post invitation to an Evite one, for example. Here’s a video:

Evite has also copied the exact look and feel of a number of the Paperless Post invitations as well.

Of course, Paperless Post could hardly have hoped that no one would ever copy their product and business model. But the hypocrisy of Evite is pretty comical here. I particularly like the line they use at the bottom of the Postmark website – “The comfort from knowing that Evite Postmark is as reliable, effective and innovative as Evite.”

Innovative, indeed.

And I certainly don’t weep for Paperless Post. In fact, this is great for their business. As much as Postmark has retreated from the stain of the evite brand on its website, most people will still understand where this service came from and remember the years of horror using the evite service. My guess is Postmark will just raise awareness of Paperless Post, and even more people will flock to the service when they want to send a premium event invitation.

15 thoughts on “Embattled Evite Clones Startup Paperless Post In Quest For Survival

  1. The sad part is that they are both built in Flash.

  2. Richard says:

    Interesting that they feel so threatened by paperless post, a direct clone… really?!.
    We are just about to head into alpha with something that will stir up the way we plan and make the whole process far more pleasant (http://plan.nr).

  3. Jason Hunt says:

    Nice mouseover text on the second image.

  4. Dace says:

    I open my mail and I there is a mail! It really feels special every time I receive a PP card. It’s organized and beautiful!

    Everyone who tries to copy Paperless post originality and creativity is just a bunch of loosers. Buuuuuuuuuuuuuuu!

  5. Steve says:

    Figures that evite is late in the game and trying to keep up with a younger, more creative, better quality idea.

  6. “It’s a fascinating case study against the notion that people will always choose free over for pay online services.”
    Let me add to that argument. Nothing is “free”, everything costs something, whether that’s in cash, or in information. The concept that people think of as a “free” service is when you are the product, and the company is selling you, and your information, to advertisers, sometimes without even telling you. By comparison, paying with cash is far simpler and convenient (If you have the cash of course) than the “free” option. And people like things simple and convenient, just look at how Apple is doing.

  7. chrisco says:

    I stopped reading when I saw the words “isn’t free.”

  8. The reality is that the users see value here not cost. In the same way virtual goods in Zynga give users perceived value in the virtual world, the users in this world see value in the real world. Whether I give money or information, I, as a user do so because I see value. What is really interesting is that these guys had the peceived value in users’ eyes out of the gate. So, what can we learn from this about how they succeeded where others have failed.

  9. Oh Evite, good luck trying to re-invent yourself, again. Paperless Post is awesome and I hope they start getting more well-deserved coverage soon. Indeed, shame they’re both built with Flash, but I wouldn’t be surprised if PP doesn’t introduce an HTML5 version soon…

  10. This is one of the best Mike Arrington blog posts I ever read. If you want to know how Mike Arrington created the top tech blog in the world, the ingredients are all in here. The secret sauce is here.

  11. Evite Cries Y(h)elp! Copies Paperless Post Pixel By Pixel http://t.co/UyWDq9Nw

  12. Jonathan says:

    Using these services, how exactly would you add an event to your calendar? If you sent me an invite in plain text, I could easily copy event details and paste them into my Google Calendar, or easily forward the information to my wife. With a Flash-based invite, you can’t copy the text. So, what do you do, write it out on a piece a paper, then retype it into your calendar?

    Isn’t a Google calendar invite a hundred times easier? Or am I missing something?

  13. Sick O Spam says:

    Paperless post is spam, too. I wish they would both go out of business.

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