|Type||Owned by Comcast|
|Founder(s)||Sean Parker, Minh Nguyen, Todd Masonis and Cameron Ring|
|Key people||Justin Miller, President & CEO|
Plaxo is an online address book and social networking service originally founded by Sean Parker, Minh Nguyen and two Stanford University engineering students, Todd Masonis and Cameron Ring. Plaxo, based in Sunnyvale, California, is a subsidiary of cable television company Comcast.
The company launched on November 12, 2002, and was funded by venture capital including funds from Sequoia Capital. Plaxo announced May 14, 2008, that it had signed an agreement to be acquired by Comcast. The terms of the deal were not disclosed. Comcast completed its purchase of Plaxo on July 1, 2008.
Plaxo provides automatic updating of contact information. Users and their contacts store their information in the cloud on Plaxo's servers. When this information is edited by the user, the changes appear in the address books of all those who listed the account changer in their own books. Once contacts are stored in the central location, it is possible to list connections between contacts and access the address book from anywhere.
In May 2008, the website reported 20 million users.
A Plaxo plug-in supports major address books including Outlook/Outlook Express, Mozilla Thunderbird, and Mac OS X's Address Book, iOS and BlackBerry, and others can be supported through an application programming interface. Additionally, Plaxo can be maintained online.
In March 2010, it was announced that CEO Ben Golub would be replaced by the company’s general manager, Justin Miller. As Justin Miller took on the role of President of Comcast Silicon Valley in addition to CEO of Plaxo, in March 2011 Plaxo's head of product management Preston Smalley was named general manager.
In March 2011, Plaxo exited social networking, ended the Plaxo Pulse social networking service, and introduced a new address book updating service.
Plaxo received criticism from technology journalist David Coursey, who was upset about receiving a number of requests from Plaxo users to update their contact information (similar to spam email), and who wondered how the company was planning to make money from a free service that collects personal contact and network information. However after "changes at Plaxo and discussions with the company's remaining co-founders", Coursey reversed his stance. Plaxo also responded to these issues in a section of their website.
The Plaxo service continues to allow spam email distribution.
On August 4, 2007 Plaxo announced the public beta of a social networking service called Plaxo Pulse. The service enabled sharing of content from multiple different sources across the social web, including blogs, photos, social networking services, rating services, and others. Users can selectively share and view content according to either pre-determined categories (e.g., friends, family, business network) or customized groups. Plaxo Pulse was the first site to feature a working version of an OpenSocial container.
Charging for Outlook synchronization service
On July 30, 2009, the previously-free synchronization services for Outlook moved to Plaxo's premium (paid) service. According to Plaxo, "this change will allow us to continue to invest in the development and support of this valuable (but high-cost) feature." Existing users of the free service were offered a 20% lifetime discount on Plaxo premium. This paid service is now called Platinum Sync.
On March 16, 2011, Plaxo announced it was leaving the social networking market (and the Plaxo Pulse service) to refocus on addressing challenges around the core online address book business.
On July 19, 2011, Plaxo announced a study on mobile trends and its native mobile applications: "On the mobile front, Plaxo has made it easy to stay connected and offers native applications including: an improved iPhone app; a new BlackBerry app; a Windows Mobile app; and syncing for Android phones with an app coming out by the end of Q3 (study on mobile trends).
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