Newton, MA (April 15, 2008) – Bill Kaplan, CEO of FreshAddress, Inc., is a founder of the MIT Blackjack Team that took Las Vegas for millions. He has taken his experience running the blackjack team for many years and applied the same business principles — operating in a niche where expert knowledge and analytics lead to success, managing and mitigating risks, altering strategies as conditions evolve, and instituting performance-based programs — to FreshAddress. Revenues at self-funded, 20-employee FreshAddress have never been stronger, growing over 50% from 2006 to 2007.
The original idea behind FreshAddress, conceived and developed in 1999 by President Austin Bliss, was to provide the missing link between old and new email addresses via a consumer website. “After researching the marketplace in 2000, however, Austin and I decided that the real need for this service was in the business sector, helping companies and nonprofits reconnect with lost customers and donors,” stated Kaplan. “Our market research showed that companies with sizeable email databases were experiencing about a 30 percent attrition rate per year. Not being able to communicate cost-effectively via email with customers and donors results in extraordinary revenue losses.”
In 2003, the US Patent Office awarded FreshAddress a patent on its Email Change of Address (ECOA) service and technology. Leveraging the knowledgebase, analytics, and experience gained through its ECOA business, FreshAddress expanded its service offerings to include email appending, real-time email validation, and email list hygiene. Its proprietary databases now include a B2C appending database of 385 million opt-in records and an ECOA database of 69 million change-pairs.
“While our corporate assets obviously add tremendous value to our business,” states Bliss, “FreshAddress owes much of its success to the management approach driven by Bill Kaplan. The business philosophy and practices he instituted to help build and manage the MIT Blackjack Team have influenced every aspect of FreshAddress service offerings and client, partner, and employee relationships.”
One of Kaplan’s key blackjack team-inspired management principles is his belief in shared team goals and pay-per-performance models. “In much the same way our blackjack team shared a stake in the outcome of their performance at the tables, everyone on our team at FreshAddress shares a stake in our corporate profits. We also employ a pay-for-performance model with our clients, whom we charge only for deliverable results (100% guarantee), as well as with our data partners, whom we pay a royalty on collected revenues based on the performance of their data.”
Bill Kaplan graduated Magna Cum Laude in Economics from Harvard College in 1977 and earned his MBA from Harvard Business School in 1980. Shortly after business school, Kaplan launched a real estate development company, which has acquired and developed space for tenants that include a number of Fortune 100 companies. As a sideline venture, he started the MIT Blackjack Team in 1980, setting it up as a limited partnership bankrolled by both players and outside investors. At its peak in the early 1990s, the team grew to nearly 80 players.