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Yahoo start-up shopping spree continues

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The Xobni celebrates the move to Yahoo.

The Xobni celebrates the move to Yahoo.

Yahoo has continued its takeover binge with word that it has bought Xobni, a start-up behind tools for better managing contact lists and email inboxes, for a reported $US30 million.

Yahoo did not disclose how much it paid for Xobni, which is 'inbox' spelled backwards, but said it planned to use the start-up's technology to improve Yahoo Mail, Messenger and other "communications offerings".

Technology blog AllThingsD pegged the deal at between $US30 million ($32.9 million) to $US40 million, citing numerous sources. Yahoo said that 31 Xobni employees will be joining Yahoo, including chief executive officer Jeff Bonforte, who previously worked at Yahoo.

Xonbni co-founder Matt Brezina.

Xonbni co-founder Matt Brezina.

Prior to being acquired by Yahoo, the start-up had already raised at least $US30 million in investment from Khosla Ventures and others, according to tech news website Gigaom. Microsoft chairman Bill Gates had also demonstrated it on a stage, saying it added value to Outlook.

In 2009 Microsoft took Xobni under its wing in its BizSpark accelerator program, but did not purchase the company. Outlook 2010 was launched with a similar feature, Social Connectors, that pulled contacs' social networking feeds to the email program. Co-founder Adam Smith declined to comment on any financial arrangements between the two companies at the time.

San Francisco-based Xobni was launched in a Cambridge, Massachusetts dorm room in 2006 by Smith, now 28, and Matt Brezina, 32, as part of the prestigious Y Combinator start-up program, and two years later the venture-backed firm hired Yahoo executive Jeff Bonforte as chief. In 2010 co-founder Smith left the company but remains a board member.

Xonbni co-founder Adam Smith.

Xonbni co-founder Adam Smith.

A message posted at the Xobni blog on Wednesday indicated that the team was settling into new digs at Yahoo's main campus in the Silicon Valley city of Sunnyvale.

"This is just the type of gig we've been preparing for throughout our history," Xobni said.

"Soon, you'll be able to use Yahoo products with Xobni goodness baked right in."

Xobni CEO Jeff Bonforte.

Xobni CEO Jeff Bonforte.

Xobni products help manage email and other communications based on patterns of exchanges between people and their contacts.

The acquisition continues a shopping spree launched after Marissa Mayer became chief of Yahoo a year ago.

Yahoo on Tuesday announced it had acquired Qwiki, a New York start-up behind an application that converts video and pictures on iPhones into sharable movie clips complete with music soundtracks.

The Qwiki buy announcement came a day after Yahoo put out word that it bought Bignoggins Productions, a one-person operation specialising in fantasy sports applications for iPhones.

Yahoo in June completed a billion-dollar deal taking over the popular blogging platform Tumblr, a move aimed at bringing more youthful users into the company's orbit.

Yahoo last month bought start-up GhostBird Software, which makes picture-taking applications for iPhones, to enhance its Flickr photo service.

Since former Google executive Mayer became chief at Yahoo, the company has racked up a series of acquisitions including start-ups Alike, StampedSnip.it and a Summly application built by an Australian-British teen

Yahoo recently bought PlayerScale, a start-up that powers games played on smartphones, tablets, consoles or personal computers.

Yahoo is reported to be eyeing online video website Hulu after its bid to buy a majority stake in France-based Dailymotion was derailed in May.

Mayer's plan for reviving the fortunes of the faded internet pioneer includes making priorities of mobile devices, video, personalised digital content, and elevating the company's popularity outside the United States.

AFP, Reuters and Fairfax Media

7 comments so far

  • Good on these tech companies for making this kinda money, but I have no idea what they do exactly, have never used any of these products that companies pay millions for, or know anyone who does.

    Could some one tell me exactly what this company does and why it's good?

    Commenter
    matt
    Date and time
    July 04, 2013, 11:13PM
    • This particular bit of software interfaces with Outlook (only) and creates 'profiles' of your email contacts. Offers better searching within your emails and contacts, if you are a particularly heavy user of emails - otherwise, meh. They might have more ideas out there, but this one isn't exactly going to change the world.

      Commenter
      Caffetierra Moka
      Location
      Sector 7-G
      Date and time
      July 07, 2013, 5:44PM
    • This particular bit of software interfaces with Outlook (only) and creates 'profiles' of your email contacts. Offers better searching within your emails and contacts, if you are a particularly heavy user of emails - otherwise, meh. They might have more ideas out there, but this one isn't exactly going to change the world.

      Commenter
      Caffetierra Moka
      Location
      Sector 7-G
      Date and time
      July 07, 2013, 5:44PM
    • This particular bit of software interfaces with Outlook (only) and creates 'profiles' of your email contacts. Offers better searching within your emails and contacts, if you are a particularly heavy user of emails - otherwise, meh. They might have more ideas out there, but this one isn't exactly going to change the world.

      Commenter
      Caffetierra Moka
      Location
      Sector 7-G
      Date and time
      July 07, 2013, 5:44PM
    • This particular bit of software interfaces with Outlook (only) and creates 'profiles' of your email contacts. Offers better searching within your emails and contacts, if you are a particularly heavy user of emails - otherwise, meh. They might have more ideas out there, but this one isn't exactly going to change the world.

      Commenter
      Caffetierra Moka
      Location
      Sector 7-G
      Date and time
      July 07, 2013, 5:44PM
  • It's way over my head, but what a technological revolution we're part of right now. Even more fascinating when you consider the blip in time comparitive to human history. In 1993 the internet communicated only 1% of the total information flowing through two-way telecommunications networks. It accounts for more than 97% as of 2007. The internet's unparalleled access to information has the power to do so much good for the world through the unification of people and awareness of truths as a catalyst for positive change.
    It makes sense why so much money is being thrown around in this space. Has anyone got another impossibly clever idea to make a mill out of this thing?

    Commenter
    steveyg
    Date and time
    July 05, 2013, 11:51AM
    • True, but it seems all these companies are being bought for millions and they don't actually DO anything.

      Commenter
      Matt
      Date and time
      July 06, 2013, 10:30PM

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