Return Path Buys E-Mail Forwarder

E-mail change of service firm Return Path announced it had acquired Re-Route, a provider of email forwarding services to Internet service providers (ISP).

With Re-route’s technology, which allows a user changing ISPs to ensure uninterrupted email delivery, New York-based Return Path will expand its email services offerings, which include helping email marketers keep their databases free of dead addresses.

“The acquisition of Re-route’s proprietary technology allows us to further enhance our offering to consumers by providing true email forwarding,” said Matt Blumberg, Return Path’s chief executive. He added that the forwarding capabilities will make Return Path’s change-of-address service the online version of the Post Office’s change of address system.

Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.

Return Path works by keeping a database of 10 million customers who opted in to have their email address changes registered. For email marketers, the service allows them to cut down on undeliverable mail and deliver their messages to consumers who have changed email addresses.

Return Path hopes the addition of email forwarding will lure more users to sign up for the service when they switch ISPs. The company says it registers 750,000 email change-of-address requests a month.

The company’s 150 clients for so-called email hygiene services include email marketing companies like Bigfoot Interactive and DoubleClick, which is also an investor, as well as email advertisers like Saks Fifth Avenue and Palm Computing. Earlier this year, Return Path scored a deal with the U.S. Postal Service to promote its email change of address services on MovingGuide.com, the postal service’s moving-information Web site.

According to a Return Path research, 31 percent of email users change their address each year, costing email marketers millions in undelivered mail and added customer-acquisition costs.

Arlington, Va.-based Re-route addresses a similar problem, giving users of ISPs like MSN and AOL the chance to have their old email forwarded and a change-of-address notification emailed to sender. The company also struck partnerships with AT&T Broadband, Verizon Wireless and RCN.

Return Path said it would integrate the technology, which is patented, with its own change of address service for consumers. Re-route’s Virginia operations will be transferred to Return Path’s Superior, Colo., offices.

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