The Original Growth Hacking Story

I can’t take credit for this story but I want to tell it. I’ve been reading about ‘growth hacking’ and stumbled upon an amazing story. It’s about Hotmail, and how the product exploded in growth.

Here’s the story:

17 years ago Sabir Bhatia and Jack Smith we’re planning to start a new company (not Hotmail). Worried about their boss reading their emails, they decided to build a web -based email system they could use.

They created Hotmail.

They raised some cash and generated meager growth. They planned to scale from buying radio and billboard ads.

But their investor, Tim Draper had a better idea:

Put ‘PS I love you. Get your free e-mail at Hotmail‘ at the bottom of each e-mail

Within hours, Hotmail’s growth exploded. They started averaging 3,000 users each day. Within 6 months, they were up to 1 Million users. Five months later they hit the 2 million mark.

When they sold to Microsoft 1.5 years after launch, they had 12 million users…17% of internet users at the time.

Pretty slick, huh?

Details of this post came from watching a growth hacking video at


Submit a Comment