As aa working actor, director, and screenwriter, Will Arnett is a busy guy.
Like a lot of busy people, the star of “Arrested Development” and “The Lego Batman” movie uses his email as kind of a to-do list that lets him know who needs what from him, when. But, as he’s found, it can be hard to keep up with all those messages, and things can fall through the cracks.
Which is why, when Arnett found out about Timyo, an app designed to give users more control over their inboxes, he got really jazzed.
“Selfishly, I thought, ‘oh, this would be great for me,'” he told Business Insider.
He was so excited about the app that about a year ago, he bought a stake in the eponymous company behind it, marking his first-ever investment in tech. And he was so enthusiastic, he gradually became an advisor to the company, too.
‘Time is your own’
“Timyo” is a stylised shortening of “time is your own,” getting at the basic idea of the app. It replaces users’ standard mail apps, but it does more than just download and display messages.
On messages for which they are expecting a response by a particular time, users can set deadlines in Timyo. The app helps keep users organised by prominently displaying only those emails with the most pressing due dates.
In our own tests, Timyo, which has raised a relatively modest $US6.5 million in venture funding, seemed to be on to something cool. Its app is still bare-bones and a little tricky to use compared with a lot of other email apps, but the concept of assigning priorities and times by which to answer emails is a compelling one.
The app has been something of a lifesaver at Electric Avenue, the production company Arnett runs with producer Marc Forman. Previously, there would be situations where Forman on a Monday would send over a script or a contract for Arnett to review, expecting Arnett to respond by the following Friday.
Arnett would agree, in good faith. But then he’d get distracted by shooting, or writing, or “blah, blah, blah,” as he put it. All of a sudden it would be Friday afternoon and he wouldn’t have even looked at the document.
“I’d be like, ‘s#!#,'” Arnett said. “Oh my God, I gotta read this.”
With Timyo, Forman just tags those kinds of emails with a Thursday due date. Arnett’s own Timyo app sees the deadline and automatically adds a reminder to his calendar to respond. As he’s gotten better at answering emails in a timely fashion, the app has built a lot more trust between them, Arnett said.
“It actually improved my relationship with Marc,” he said.
Changing the conversation
Fellow Hollywood stars like Jared Leto and Ashton Kutcher are well-known tech investors, with big bets on companies like Uber and Airbnb. Although he’s had similar opportunities to invest in tech companies, Arnett’s largely stayed away.
He readily admitted he’s not super technical, and would rather play it safe than take the huge risk of investing in something he doesn’t fully understand. After all, as we saw in Ja Rule’s involvement with the recent Fyre Festival disaster, celebrity doesn’t automatically equate to investment know-how.
“Oftentimes, it’s just too in the abstract for me,” Arnett said. “I don’t want to end up as a cautionary tale.”
That’s partly why he was so excited about Timyo, in particular. Its pitch made sense to him.
His main role with Timyo is just getting the word out about its app. He’s working on videos designed to get people talking about Timyo. Ultimately, Arnett said, he wants to “change the conversation” around email to include some of Timyo’s ideas.
He hopes other people will have a similar reaction to his when he first saw the app: “‘Oh yeah, this is something that should be included in email already.'”
In his conversation with Business Insider, Arnett also shared some details on the new season of “Arrested Development,” coming next year to Netflix. You can read about that here.