Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Plaxo Reboots - Moves Back To Its Roots, Leaves Social Networking

Posted by Tom Foremski - March 16, 2011

Plaxo is announcing a major relaunch today that moves its focus back to management of user address books across all of their devices and is pulling out of social networking.

The company announced new services such as Plaxo Personal Assistant, which automatically maintains user address books and tracks updates across the web.

I recently met with Justin Miller, CEO of Plaxo to talk about the changes. Here are some notes from our meeting:

- I joined about 18 months ago and we began working on this new venture about a year ago. The company started in 2002.

- We're moving out of the social network area because Facebook and LinkedIn do a good job fulfilling people's social network needs.

- We're back focusing on the problems of users managing several address books, on different devices, in different places.

- We have several products based on the freemium model. The target is the mobile professional.

- Privacy is very important to us. We will search the web for changes in contact information but only if you have a connection with that person in your address book.

- When we find changes in contact information we will alert you and ask if you want your address book updated.

- We have a database of 3 billion entries. That includes duplicates represented in the address books we manage. We have about 600 million unique individuals, about half are outside the US.

- We partner with Zoominfo and we will announce other partnerships. But we are staying away from shady companies that try to sell you contact lists. We want to know the source of our contact info.

- Our free version is a good start it will clean up your address books and also remove duplicates and consolidate your contacts.

- Although we started nine years ago the address book problem is much more difficult today because of all the different apps that rely on an accurate address book.

- An average Plaxo user has 250 contacts and 1.6 address books. But many have two or more address books. 10,000 entries is the limit. That's not set by us but by cell phones and other devices.

- We will add new services over time. We have requests to add a lite-CRM service for small businesses.

- We're owned by Comcast which gives us the backing of a large company and the support to expand our business.

Foremski's Take: This is a smart move by Plaxo because address books are a vital component of our connected world. Plaxo could eventually move its way into a strategic position as the address book for many third-party applications and services.

It might even regain some Plaxo users who were put off by it's attempts to provide some social network services of its own.

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Plaxo - Press Room


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