Kara Swisher

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Password Manager LastPass Acquires Xmarks

LastPass, a cross-platform password manager, has acquired the social bookmarking and browser synchronization service Xmarks.

The San Francisco-based Xmarks has been in the midst of some tumult of late, as it closed down in September and then quickly opened back up again in an effort to keep its service running for a large group of active users.

That happened after user outcry, spurring the company to try to stay afloat.

SInce then, Xmarks has been trying to land itself safely.

The start-up had multiple offers to keep the operation running, as well as pledges from almost 30,000 fans willing to pay $10 to $20 a year for a new “freemium” business model.

Enter LastPass, based in Vienna, Va., whose CEO Joe Siegrist said in an interview that he wanted to help keep the service operating.

“They had a large dedicated audience, but their free offering and advertising model was not working,” he said. “We really want to figure something out that could keep it going.”

Siegrist said LastPass offered a robust free service, but relied on a small group of users who pay to upgrade to a premium offering.

The browser add-on for cross-platform synchronization operates in the cloud.

And that is going to be the fate of Xmarks–which had been called Foxmarks initially.

It had been seed-funded in 2006 by well-known entrepreneur Mitch Kapor and also got an additional investment from First Round Capital.

Xmarks garnered another $5 million in funding from Redpoint Ventures in 2008,

That year, it also hired Silicon Valley entrepreneur James Joaquin as CEO, whose job it was to carve out a business with Xmarks’ assets, including using its mass of data.

Xmarks had certainly been growing its user base and bookmarked Web addresses strongly, via a browser widget that recorded bookmarking information.

Earlier this year, it tried out an advertising product called SearchBoost, which gave advertisers additional analytics about their ads, as well as organic search results.

But all that ultimately did not translate into a viable business for Xmarks.

“We think this will make a great ending and beginning for Xmarks,” said Joaquin.

Both Xmarks and LastPass declined to provide financial details of the transaction.

Here is the blog post by LastPass and Xmarks about the integration:

Today we’re excited to announce that Xmarks has been acquired by LastPass, makers of a leading cross-platform password manager. It’s a great opportunity that ensures the survival of Xmarks as the same service that you know and love.

In the last few years, we’ve attracted over 4.5 million users syncing more than 1 billion bookmarks across 5 million computers. Most importantly, we’ve provided a simple solution to help people easily access their bookmarks, wherever and whenever they needed to. We’ve had thousands of users tell us that Xmarks has become an integral part of their browsing experience. You can rest assured that LastPass will continue to build upon the service in the coming months.

We’re also committed to keeping Xmarks free while implementing a viable long-term plan. Xmarks is transitioning to a “freemium” business model, the same model that allowed LastPass to grow into a thriving, profitable business. The browser add-on and the vast majority of what users have enjoyed remains free. Users can then opt to purchase Xmarks Premium for $12 per year, which includes new enhanced features like Android and iPhone mobile phone apps, priority support, and more. The Xmarks and LastPass Premium offerings are also available bundled together at a reduced subscription rate of $20 per year. For those of you who pledged your financial support, you can make good on your pledge today and upgrade.

The restructuring of the Xmarks offerings will accelerate the introduction of new features and service improvements. The two services will continue to require separate downloads and will be administered through two distinct extensions and websites, although there are plans to integrate them in the future.

We believe the acquisition will prove to be a success because of the common mission shared by LastPass and Xmarks. Xmarks complements LastPass’ vision of secure, universal access to the information that gives you entry to your digital life. By joining LastPass, Xmarks will also be able to accelerate the introduction of new features and developments. As the ultimate cross-browser, cross-platform team, Xmarks and LastPass will work together to help more people simplify their digital lives and access their data from anywhere, at any time.

We’re excited to join forces with LastPass and be a part of a team that will continue to provide the best data-syncing tools out there! We hope you will support both of these great services through your business and your Premium subscription. For more information, please see the FAQs.

The Xmarks & LastPass Teams

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