Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Plaxo Drops Social and Returns to Address Book Roots

Plaxo, the address book maintainer founded in 2002 that was bought by Comcast in 2008, had gotten into social Web aggregation along the way, launching a social network called Pulse (later “Stream”) that aggregated users’ contacts’ online activity. It was an interesting move back in the summer of 2007, and probably helped the company get acquired.

But now, at a time where you can find such social aggregators everywhere, and with much of the company leadership having left the building, Plaxo is getting rid of social. At the same time, the company is launching a paid “Personal Assistant” tool that scours public Web information (including social networks) for contact information updates and keeps address books updated.

This comes at a time when the address book is increasingly relevant as a core battleground for the center of users’ online social lives, whether on their phones, email or a social network. For instance, Google recently dropped Facebook merging from its phone book on the Android Nexus S. Plaxo has never been too far from the zeitgeist, but it’s always been out the outskirts.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik