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Zumbox, a startup which is trying to set up a digital alternative to the postal system in the U.S., has raised $8 million in a first round of funding from a series of high-profile private investors, including Michael Eisner, the former CEO of Walt Disney (NYSE: DIS) and Rick Braddock, the former CEO of Priceline.com.
The startup says it has set up a ‘digital mailbox’ for each street address in the U.S., so that mail typically sent via the postal service can be sent electronically via its network instead. The company launched its service in beta in February — and has signed up some municipal adopters. One town, the Village of New Lenox in Illinois, is using Zumbox to send water and sewer bills to its 8,000 residents, while several others have formally encouraged residents to set up accounts.
Why not just send e-mails instead? Zumbox says that because its system is based on an individual’s street address instead of their e-mail address, there’s greater “accountability and reliability.” It also touts additional security features.
Of course, individuals will actually have to check their accounts for the system to take off — likely a big challenge considering the myriad of electronic accounts they already need to check. But with the U.S. Postal Service trying to close branches and cut back on delivery in order to stem its losses, perhaps there will be some demand at least among mail senders.
Zumbox says it is planning a national rollout beginning in the fourth quarter of the year and says it is partnering with media companies, municipal governments, and national and local mail senders, so that it will be able to reach one million households. Release.