Superhuman introduces a new era of email with OpenAI.

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March 18, 2024
Superhuman

The shift to online work has roughly 1 billion professionals spending close to 3 hours managing email each day. This works out to around 1 trillion human hours a year spent on email.

Superhuman’s goal is to reduce the time spent managing inboxes. They’ve used OpenAI’s API to build a suite of next-gen AI email products that are saving users time, driving value, and increasing engagement.

The overflowing inbox

At any company, a large portion of the workforce (Superhuman estimates between 30–50%, across roles like finance, sales, and support) spend their days in and out of email, struggling with overflowing inboxes. It’s all too easy for emails to be overlooked, leading to delays, or worse, mishandled—leading to errors or even reputational damage. 

Superhuman got its start solving this problem with a popular product that offered an array of built-in email automations and integrated with common email services like Gmail and Outlook. Then came AI, which presented the opportunity to take the company’s vision to the next level and completely transform the email experience. 

Many of us write several novels worth of email per year. Between the time we spend, how much we read, and how much we write, email is the perfect place for AI to add massive value to peoples’ lives.

Rahul Vohra, founder and CEO of Superhuman

Reimagining the email experience with OpenAI

Superhuman is making rapid progress on Superhuman AI, which is powered by OpenAI’s API. They’ve already launched a large number of GPT-driven features like: 

  • Write with AI, which turns a written prompt into a full email
  • Rewrite in Your Voice, which rephrases an email in the user’s personal writing voice and tone
  • Write with Your Voice, which turns a dictated statement into a full email, allowing users to compose emails with just a few lines of speech
  • Auto Summarize, which always shows an up-to-date one-line summary for each email and thread in users’ inboxes
  • Instant Reply, which lets users respond to email in one click by choosing from contextual reply options 
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From the start, partnering with OpenAI was a centerpiece of Superhuman’s AI roadmap, for several reasons:

  • Startup culture and support: “OpenAI is itself a startup and therefore understands how to work blazingly fast,” Vohra said. “We have constant back-and-forths with various members of the OpenAI team, including engineers, go-to-markets and executives.” 
  • Privacy-first: Since Superhuman is embedded in confidential email threads, customers are understandably concerned about protecting their data. Because OpenAI offers zero data retention (ZDR) for qualifying use cases, Superhuman has been able to meet its strict privacy and compliance requirements.
  • Optimized performance and cost: OpenAI’s API offers access to a range of models with different performance and cost characteristics, which has allowed Superhuman to make informed tradeoffs. “OpenAI is the clear leader in the space with models that are anywhere from six months to a full year plus ahead of the next best models. And this is true for both the quality of model output as well as how fast the models work,” Vohra added.

Getting to inbox zero 2x faster

Superhuman’s rollout of Superhuman AI has met with tremendous success, seeing high user adoption rates and faster workflows:

  • High opt-in rates for AI: More than 85% of Superhuman’s users are opting in to the new GPT-powered features.
  • Growing engagement: Usage stats show that users aren’t just opting in, they’re engaging with the features at a rate that continues to grow over time. For example, users use the Write with AI feature an average of 25 times per week, and this number has grown 55% since launch. 
  • Inbox processing speed, doubled: “Our AI features help customers get through their inbox about twice as fast as before,” Vohra said.
  • 2x email writing speed: Superhuman’s Instant Reply feature uses OpenAI’s API to draft a reply so that all the user needs to do is hit send. “In beta, users were writing emails twice as fast as before,” Vohra explained. “If you multiply that out by how many emails our users send, this feature alone saves you more than an hour per week.” 
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Pressing “forward” on the future of email

“Imagine waking up to an inbox where every email thread has a one sentence summary and a draft reply. Simply hit send,” Vohra said. This might have sounded far-fetched just a few years ago. But Superhuman has built and launched this end-to-end experience with OpenAI’s API. Each email comes with an automatic AI-generated summary, and users can choose from several AI-drafted responses to send instantly. “Thanks to AI features like these, Superhuman has seen its user base grow rapidly over the last year, more than doubling the number of weekly new users.”

What’s next? Superhuman imagines a world where GPT-based agents will soon be able to filter, triage, and respond to email automatically—scheduling meetings and appointments, and taking basic actions online and in the real world. The success of Instant Reply proves this agent-led email future is not too far off. 

Superhuman and OpenAI are highly aligned in terms of where we want AI to go. We both believe that technology will increase the capacity for human achievement.

Rahul Vohra, founder and CEO of Superhuman
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