Mandrill’s Betrayal

Mandrill, MailChimp’s SMTP-as-a-service offering with 800,000 customers and a $12MM ARR is essentially shutting down. They’re merging it into MailChimp, but updated the TOS and AUP with immediate effect in ways that essentially banned what was the service’s raison d’être: sending bulk mail programmatically.

You can no longer use it to send mail on behalf of your users, as in a contact form processor or white labeled service. You can no longer use it to send the same mail to multiple people, like an alert or notification. So, for many many businesses that relied on it, the rug’s been pulled out from under us with essentially no notice.

Prohibited Actions
Send bulk emails, meaning emails directed to a number of individuals with the same content, through Mandrill.
Acceptable Use Policy

There’s a whole post about the philosophy behind merging Mandrill and MailChimp on their blog, but no explanation for why there was not even a day of notice regarding the AUP changes. What a way to treat your customers.

  • Scott Connerly

    Mandrill was built on Amazon SES. Sounds like its time to switch to Amazon SES.

  • Dan Grossman

    Mandrill was not built on Amazon SES. SES is also unsuitable for many of the use cases I listed, as it only sends from verified domains.

  • Michael Hopkins

    I agree; I don’t care for the change, and I don’t understand why the terms didn’t have the same change date as the deadline to start using the integration (or at least 3/15.)

  • Lyndsy Simon

    This impacted our product as well – we’re sending emails on behalf of users, which was fine under the Mandrill AUP but seems to be prohibited under MailChimp’s. While it’s great that they’re keeping the API active for a while to facilitate transition, it’s a shock to check your email one morning and find out that the AUP has changed without notice, you’re technically in violation, and that you now get to scramble to find an alternative.

  • Teren Teh

    It’s unfortunate that they are shutting down such a valuable service with a sizeable revenue but what completely shocked me was the way they communicated it to customers. Complete and utter disrespect.

    Apart from Mailgun, are there any other SMTP as a service options? We were debating between Mailgun and Mandrill but now that Mandrill is off the table, we’re looking to see what else is out there.

  • Andy Baird

    SES now has an SMTP gateway option so you don’t have to use it via the AWS API if you don’t want to.

  • Dan Grossman

    Sendgrid’s the most comparable alternative IMO.

  • Kevin Sangeelee

    I was using Mandill as an SMTP smart host, and switched to SendGrid with a three line change in my configuration (username, password, and host). My first choice was SES, but we had a need for a decent reporting UI, and we’d have had to write this ourselves.

    My guess is that Mandrill was simply costing too much to protect from spammers – their support was slow (though friendly and helpful) on the couple of occasions I needed to communicate. It’s easy to imagine how bad actors could adversely affect their main MailChimp offering, or at least prevent them from pooling resource.

  • Elias Mårtenson

    I did the same. SendGrid works great and since we are well below the maximum traffic, I was able to switch to them without even entering a credit card.

  • Barry Jones

    I believe Mandrill and Mailchimp are both built on Port25’s PowerMTA server.

  • Jose Zamora

    Pretty sure Mandrill’s (Mailchimp’s) email infrastructure is not Amazon SES. They use other MTAs.

  • Barry Jones

    There’s tons of them out there now. Sendgrid, Mailgun, Postmark, AWS SES off the cuff.

  • mikemikemikemikemike

    I can attest to the quality of Mailgun, esp for processing inbound mail.

    I’m planning on shifting to SES soon, not because Mailgun isn’t sufficient, but because I no longer trust small companies for these sorts of matters.

  • Jose Zamora

    SparkPost supports SMPT if you don’t want to use an API. 100K emails per month free.

  • Abe Voelker

    It’s slightly more complicated than that if you want to set up DKIM and SPF with your own domain name (i.e. you have to create/change some DNS addresses).

  • mikemikemikemikemike
  • Anthony Franco

    Mailchimp used to have a different product built on top of Amazon SES. But they shut it down and launched their own Mandrill instead. I think that’s the reason for the confusion.

  • ferisoft

    They will probably lose 90-95% of customers as they deserve to, since the cost of switching is basically changing an smtp server and DNS record. I was pretty disappointed with this stupid decision myself. Hopefully they suffer the full business consequences resulting from tons of pissed of customers.

  • tracysestili

    Hi all, just as an FYI, SparkPost has agreed to take on any departing Mandrill users and to honor Mandrill’s pricing for those users. They’re also offering 100K emails/mo for free for the lifetime of the user’s account. You can see in the blog by their CEO, Phillip Merrick:

  • Nikolay Kolev

    Well, all I can say is this – stick with Amazon SES and if you use Mailchimp for other projects – dump them and switch to Sendy or EmailOctopus!

  • John Alessi

    SocketLabs supports similar SMTP and HTTP APIs. SocketLabs has been around since 2007 and delivers billions of emails per year. It is a little different in that it really focuses on providing managed delivery and working more hand in hand with customers.

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  • Martin

    You might try this tool as an alternative of Mandrill:

  • Teren Teh

    Care to share your experiences with Mailgun?

  • Teren Teh

    Any ones where you would personally recommend?

  • Teren Teh

    Thanks. I might give SendGrid a try.

  • Teren Teh

    Thanks. I’ll check them out.

  • Barry Jones

    I’ve been using Sendgrid at high volume for a few years now (15 million / month) and they’ve been stellar for us. Simple to integrate with for advanced functionality and customer support that is proactive to help us directly prep for any changes that we need to make.

    I’ve also used Mailgun for inbound email and Postmark for outbound on smaller projects with good results. Postmark has started offering free credits for people properly getting DMARC setup, which says a lot about their commitment to making email better.

    All three have been good. SES requires more hands on work, which some IT shops might like. Sendgrid is the one that I can definitely vouch for in high volume. They might cost a bit more than the absolute low ball folks but they deliver reliably.

  • mikemikemikemikemike

    Yeah, so first some background:

    The app I’ve created is email-based, so users receive an email with a message that has a Reply-To with a specific pattern and with a hash in it. We set up a regex pattern in Mailgun that matches the address format, and we have Mailgun POST (you can have Mailgun forward matching emails to an address or POST them to a webhook URL) to our server.

    Our server takes the POST, which contains a lot of data about the email (headers, sender, full body HTML, full body text, stripped text (this “stripped-text” key is the best part – Mailgun uses machine learning to intelligently parse inbound emails for populating this field with *only* the portion that is being sent (i.e., without all the extra garbage, parts of the email they’re replying to, etc.)), and other metadata.

    The nice thing is A) since the “launch” of this product (still in alpha / stealth mode) back in December, at least a couple thousand emails have come in without a single issue; B) the times when our app had a bug and returned a 500 error, Mailgun kept trying at increasing intervals until they got a 200 back, so we haven’t had a byte of lost data, at least that we know of (using logs to corroborate), and C) Mailgun is really quick about getting those POSTs to us. If I send a test email to one of our addresses, it’s like 1 second later that I see it show up in our app.

    Note, however, that I don’t recommend Mailgun for sending, since their deliverability is really bad (like 30% goes to spam). They’re, IMHO, the best for inbound, but I definitely recommend SendGrid for outbound. In fact, I personally think that Mailgun should cancel their outbound email service and *only* focus on inbound, so that they can make it even better (better logging, better UI, better docs, better support, etc.), since clearly they’re not an outbound email company and clearly they can’t compete with the economies of scale that companies like SendGrid have (IP blocks, spam avoidance, monitoring their customers to kick out spammers, etc.).

  • Teren Teh

    That’s a pretty interesting analysis. I’d love to learn more about your app when it’s ready.

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