Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Yahoo Offer to Buy Contact Startup Xobni Is at a Price of $30M to $40M


According to numerous sources close to the company, Yahoo is offering to pay $30 million to $40 million for the maker of address book apps and plugins.

That’s below the more than $40 million raised by the San Francisco-based startup from a variety of venture capitalists, including First Round Capital, Baseline Ventures and Khosla Ventures. Launched in 2008, Xobni — which is “inbox” spelled backwards — received its initial round of funding in 2006 from Y Combinator.

Sources inside Yahoo said that, as envisioned at the current acquisition offer, Xobni common shareholders might not get any of their investment back over preferred ones, which might hold up or even scotch any deal. Yahoo could certainly offer more, although sources said that seemed unlikely.

As with most of these purchases, any deal might also simply fall apart. But other sources noted that the company has been shopped to several different companies and that Yahoo has offered the best price and is the most natural home for it, given its strong email offerings.

Sources said the deal was of particular interest of Yahoo co-founder David Filo, who still plays a key tech role at Yahoo and has worked previously with Xobni’s CEO Jeff Bonforte. Before he headed Xobni, Bonforte was VP of social search and the real-time communications for Yahoo.

Bonforte would certainly be a nice re-hire for the Silicon Valley Internet giant, which is in need of leadership in the key communications area.

AllThingsD.com had previously reported on Yahoo’s interest in Xobni. It has been mulling the company — as well as a spate of others all over the tech landscape — for a while.

As Liz Gannes noted, Xobni “could be a fit for Yahoo’s mail and productivity tools, as it neatly creates automated profiles for each email contact with correspondence history and social network data.” Its products have expanded from just an Microsoft Outlook plugin to supporting Google’s Gmail, Yahoo Mail and Apple’s iCloud, and it also offers Smartr Contacts apps for Android and iPhone.

If the deal is complete, it continues Yahoo’s buying binge under CEO Marissa Mayer, who appears to be using M&A as a talent recruitment tool — essentially, if you can’t hire them, buy their company.

Among her recent purchases are a spate of mobile app companies, for which she has only spent $16 million in total, with the exception of Summly for a lot more. And, of course, she also bought Tumblr for cool $1.1 billion.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald