Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Yahoo Acquires Xobni for Upward of $30 Million

Yahoo said it has bought Xobni, as AllThingsD had previously reported it was planning to do.


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

It is the second purchase this week by the Silicon Valley Internet giant of once-promising startups that have struggled to grow and could use a big boost. As ATD had also previously said it would, Yahoo bought Apple iPhone video app maker Qwiki earlier this week for about $50 million.

In a blog post titled “Oohay,” which included a trying-hard-to-be-adorkable photo of the Xobni staff with Yahoo-branded stuff, the company said, “Did you ever meet someone who truly ‘gets’ you? That’s how we feel about Yahoo!.” Interestingly (and perhaps oddly), Qwiki’s acquisition announcement also had a romantic relationship meme, with big hearts.

(By the by, Oohay is Yahoo spelled backward, keeping with the forced fun theme, while Xobni is inbox spelled backward. Apropos of nothing, Arak is Kara spelled backward.)

Xobni said that support for its products would not be shuttered for one year, although “new purchases of premium products are no longer being accepted.” It also noted that it had moved its San Francisco staff to Yahoo’s Sunnyvale HQ.

Obviously, the price Yahoo paid is below the more than $40 million raised by the startup from a variety of venture capitalists, including First Round Capital, Baseline Ventures and Khosla Ventures. Launched in 2008, Xobni received its initial round of funding in 2006 from Y Combinator.

Still, it’s a save. Xobni has been shopped to several different companies but 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 to 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 real-time communications for Yahoo.

Bonforte will certainly be a nice re-hire for the Silicon Valley Internet giant, which is in need of leadership in the key communications area. Sources said he will lead a big effort in that area that is important to CEO Marissa Mayer.

AllThingsD 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 a 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.

The purchase of Xobni and Qwiki continues Yahoo’s buying binge under Mayer.

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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— David Pogue on why he’s joining Yahoo