Shmulik Fishman is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Argyle, the leading employment data platform that provides companies access to user-permissioned records in real-time.

Shmulik Fishman



In the before times, copying documents required placing a sheet of carbon between the paper used for writing and the one used for copying. The carbon would transfer the ink between the two pages. From handwritten notes to typewriters and now emails, “Cc” is used to convey the process of making a carbon copy of the original document. Trust me, though, carbon paper production is not a growth industry. It’s puzzling, then, that Gmail still asks us who we should be pulling out the carbon for.

Most of us simply understand that Cc means people can see who else is on the email, and Bcc means they can’t. Gmail could build an email form to reflect the current features. Like this:

But they don’t. This 19th-century terminology for letter copying survives because it’s how the last generation teaches the next one about letter etiquette. Google has (correctly) concluded that educating users or changing the symbolism for email copies is not worth the effort.

The income verification industry has an analogous framework for ordering a Verification of Income and Employment Report (VOIE for short). In the before times, physical documents were manually produced and mailed to businesses requesting VOIE on their customers. Businesses pay per VOIE and key-in data to internal systems for record keeping. You can’t make this stuff up – the world still runs on paper.

For some time now, Argyle has been providing access to the underlying data used to build a VOIE report. Our thesis is that when businesses stop ordering static VOIE Reports and tap into the underlying data set, they will shorten timelines and reduce operational overhead. But here we are again, trying to figure out how to do something Google has already concluded is not worth the effort.

I’m happy to report that we have stopped doing that. Our report generator looks like a small feature, but it’s powering a massive shift in client usage. Because our system is formatting data and charging clients based on a static report, we have become backward compatible with our client’s current workflow instead of asking them to upgrade to work with ours. I invite everyone to try out our new version of carbon paper.