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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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work