20 Reasons Not to Start an Email Startup

Facebook’s much-anticipated announcement of its Social Inbox and acquisition of Zenbe, a mail-related startup, has directed a lot of attention to startups dedicated to reshaping the email landscape. But former Xoopit CEO Bijan Marashi warns that that goal may be too lofty for a startup.

Will Yahoo Use Xoopit’s CloudQuery to Help Usher in the Real-time Web?

xoopit_logo_c1While Xoopit’s flagship email product is being touted as the reason why Yahoo (s yhoo) agreed to buy the company, I think the underlying technology used by Xoopit is far more interesting. Xoopit has even exposed this infrastructure technology as an on-demand service, which it’s dubbed CloudQuery, with the tagline “Search as a Service.” But I suspect that, once the acquisition closes, CloudQuery will get buried deep in the bowels of Yahoo. Read More about Will Yahoo Use Xoopit’s CloudQuery to Help Usher in the Real-time Web?

Why Yahoo Buying Xoopit Is a Smart Move


Updated: Yahoo has confirmed that it is indeed buying Xoopit.

Yahoo (s YHOO), the No. 1 email company, is rumored to be buying San Francisco-based startup Xoopit for about $20 million. While the Wall Street Journal says that negotiations are continuing, Kara Swisher says it’s a done deal. The company has raised about $6.5 million from investors such as Accel Partners and Foundation Capital.

The exit price tells us two things: When it comes to buying startups, we are firmly in a buyer’s market. And secondly, Xoopit has struggled to overcome its big challenge, that of getting more subscribers. If it more subscribers, it would have been accorded a higher sticker price. That said, getting acquired by Yahoo would be an amazing achievement for the Xoopit team, whom I’ve gotten to know pretty closely. Read More about Why Yahoo Buying Xoopit Is a Smart Move

As Expected Yahoo Mail Platform Launches

As expected, Yahoo (s YHOO) launched its Inbox 2.0 beta today at a press event in San Francisco. Since I am not part of the beta program, I haven’t actually seen the service just yet — though I got some cute screenshots. The company trotted out three applications including a Flixster and a Xoopit application to show off this new social mailbox, as we reported last week. Yahoo also launched three apps of its own — Flickr, Yahoo Greetings and Family Journal.

On their developer blog, Mark Risher, Director, Product Management at Yahoo! Mail wrote: “Because of the sensitivity of the information in people’s inboxes, we’re adding developers gradually while we refine the application security and privacy protections our Yahoo! Mail users demand.” I am optimistic about this Yahoo effort. As I wrote in my previous post, “Yahoo has an unique opportunity with this platform. In particular, it plays to Yahoo’s strength in making complex technologies simple for a mass market audience, a trick Google is still struggling to master.” Yahoo is also making some changes to some of its other services such as Yahoo TV and Yahoo Music as well.

Yahoo Plans to Launch a Mail App Platform

Yahoo, I’ve learned, is planning to launch a new program that essentially turns its email offering into a platform on which to run applications — much in the same way Facebook does. Users’ address books would act as a social graph, essentially turning Yahoo Mail into the basis of a whole new social networking experience. Leveraging email infrastructure, as I’ve noted before, is the best hope a company like Yahoo has to challenge the social networking incumbents.

Can World of Warcraft Help Build a Better Workforce?

If you’re good at leading people in online games, you’re good at doing it in the real world. At least that’s the theory posited in two studies, one by IBM last year and another, more recent one from Harvard. Both studies noted similarities between CEO skills and those displayed by in-game leaders. They also found that specific characteristics of those virtual worlds could “make leaders out of lemmings.”

While those studies looked at what it takes to lead groups within games, they didn’t focus on player-vs.-player interactions. If you believe business is warfare, then it’s worth studying which factors the winners have in common. That’s just what four researchers at the University of Michigan have done in a report published late last year, using data from Blizzard’s Worlds of Warcraft MMORPG.

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When Outlook Gets Personal, It Gets Clear Context

ClearContext, a San Francisco-based start-up whose Outlook inbox management plugin was recommended by us in the past, has released the beta of their product of ClearContext Personal. It is also a free Outlook add-in that help organize email and inbox management. There are a bunch of start-ups that are trying to address the issue of email overload, and at the same using it the inbox as a starting point for a highly social network.

One really good reason to download this app: it automatically sort emails from a wide variety of applications and websites into nice little folders. You can quickly see how many Facebook messages or Evite invitations you got. Mind you those alerts are the biggest annoyance in any InBox. There are other new features such as one that makes Outlook messages appear as threaded conversations, something we Mac’s Mail.app users are quite used to. Anyway this is one Outlook add-in worthy of your time. Enter “gigaom” for immediate download.

For Xobni, Why It’s A Good Time To Sell

Word around the Valley is that Xobni, a San Francisco-based startup that has made a software add-on for Microsoft Outlook, is getting a thorough look-over by Microsoft. This isn’t the first time the company has been the object of Microsoft’s affection. Apparently, the company had previously been offered about $20 million but chose to raise VC money and do it alone.

Who knows, this time the price may be right. Bill Gates is one high-profile Xobni beta tester, making it easy for M&A drones to pay up for this company. Xobni’s software uses features of social networking to better analyze your inbox and formulates relationships and other relevant points that help you conquer the chaos called email. I have written about Xobni in the context of email as a social environment.

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Google & Yahoo Finally Get The Memo: Email Is The Social Environment.

[qi:034] Over on The New York Times’ Bits Blog, Saul Hansell writes that both Google and Yahoo are thinking about using email as a backbone of a social environment. About time, is what I would like to say, and what took you so long, for crying out loud.
I had talked about this very same concept back in September: Is Email The Ultimate Social Environment? While Yahoo and Google are still talking about it, one start-up, Xoopit has already done it, and another one, Xobni, is well on its way to making that a reality.
While it is great to hear what Yahoo and Google want to turn email-into-a-social-environement, I won’t hold my breath to see something happen. Yahoo, apparently had plans to make email social a while ago, but tossed out the idea. So why would this time be any different? Yahoo and Google seem to have good intentions, but they would be better if backed by hard facts: like when will these features actually materialize for real!