Xobni is Inbox Spelled Backwards

Now here is a surprise. Microsoft has apparently agreed to acquire Xobni.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the product and I love the team. The day I saw them demo at Y Combinator, I knew they were going to do something important.

But first Lookout and now Xobni. It’s sort of proof that Microsoft doesn’t know how to improve it’s own software. So they buy those that do.

If this is true, congrats to Matt and Adam.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. jeremystein

    its kind of like aol buying bebothey could have leveraged aim as a social net

  2. Alex Iskold

    very true. MSFT’s fatigue reminds me once again that MSFT is now really just IBM.

  3. Zach

    Congrats indeed. I’ve been hooked on Xobni ever since I first installed it. Searches, attachments, Skype integration… It’s all good. Re: Microsoft not knowing how to improve its (typo above, its vs it’s) own software, I’m not sure I agree with that statement. My guess is that they have some good ideas for Xobni and it’s cheaper and more sensible for them in the long run to buy it as opposed to license it and build upon it.

  4. Zoli Erdos

    I don’t think it’s a surprise, at least not since Bill Gates presented Xobni to his troops in February”http://www.zoliblog.com/200…

  5. Kurt

    Microsoft has always been about the developer network. They rely on developers to extend and embrace their platform (be it DOS, .NET, SharePoint, Office) to increase their penetration in smaller markets they can’t service directly.Visual Studio Tools for Office (the technology I am fairly certain xobni is employing) allows people to easily integrate any third party .NET code into the Task Pane of office apps. It’s huge. I love writing VSTO apps.Microsoft loves this because it makes Office the platform. Not SalesForce, not Google Apps, not Facebook, but Office.And every once in a while, someone writes a plugin that services enough of the market, that MS wants to bring it in house.So, I think it’s less of a “Microsoft doesn’t know how to improve Office” and more of a “We’ll open it up, you build the apps, we’ll buy the ones we like” a la Facebook.

  6. Offbeatmammal

    I think it’s a great outcome – Outlook users get a best of breed solution, and MS gets an injection of smart thinking.Hopefully Matt and Adam will be able to bring some of their thinking to Office/Live labs while getting some of the MS engineering muscle and benefits of being a core part of the platform for the future (I’ve had some perf issues running Xobni – but then again Outlook itself isn’t that fleet of foot!)Imagine having the processing backload of Xobni running on an Exchange server rather than the client (or at least able to offload for Exchange users)

    1. Kurt

      I haven’t received my beta yet, so I can’t comment about the performance, but I wouldn’t anticipate Xobni perf becoming better just because it’s brought into the Office team. A prime example of this is when the Outlook team sucked in the Lookout guys.Lookout itself was much faster than the integrated search that Outlook 2007 shipped with. Even Joel Spolsky weighed in on this (http://www.joelonsoftware.c…. And this is something I personally know to be true.Now, Xobni running on Exchange 2007 – that would be great. And it probably wouldn’t be very difficult to accomplish since Exchange 2007 supports interop much better thru Web Services rather than the clunky classic CDO MAPI interface of prior versions.Either way, I’m net positive on Xobni.

  7. Don Jones

    Let’s be fair – tech darling Google is now buying companies at a much faster pace than ever before. Wasn’t their head of M&A on the cover of a big magazine recently? Buying lots of companies is a tacit admission that your own people can’t build thing, or build them for less than you’re buying them.

    1. vincentvw

      or rather, it’s a sign of laziness.

    2. fredwilson

      Yes, but do you see google buying companies thay make gmail better? I don’t. They buy companies for a number of reasons but they still seem to be able to innovate on the core servicesFred

      1. Don Jones

        Google is still a one-trick pony – Advertising platform via AdWords and AdSense. How much more innovation are they going to do there? To me it’s just incremental. The programmer who created AdSense just left the company with his many millions – he’s one of the other dads in my daughter’s Hindi class. He was instrumental in advocating the Doubleclick buy. If there was so much left for him to do at Google, he probably wouldn’t have left. Other mid-level and senior people are leaving.MSFT on the other hand creates multiple billion dollar businesses every few years – Sharepoint, Xbox, while Google buys businesses that are producing little (ex-DoubleClick), no doubt for their engineering talent as much as for the technology, since they’re losing brainpower like the AdSense programmer…Can anyone name a billion dollar business that Google has organically created, other than their advertising platform?

  8. CoryS

    I agree with Zach that larger companies have more tools to grow with and the right acquisitions are a great way to “fast follow” the market without having to lay out as much capital at the riskiest phase of an initiative.Framing the question another way: would Apple be better or worse off if they were more aggressive in adding on via [targeted] acquisitions?

  9. ceonyc

    This sucks.Now there will never be a Thunderbird plugin.There goes a lot of potential innovation, right down the corporate drain.

  10. Bob Warfield

    Microsoft doesn’t know how to improve their own software or innovate, they never have with few exceptions (C# being a pretty good one).Xobni is cool, I love having it. It does an amazing job of elevating Outlook from being such a dinosaur. My companion to Xobni is the LinkedIn toolbar.Therein lies the rub. Xobni + Outlook in Microsoft’s hands is the key to LinkedIn’s kingdom.More on my blog:http://smoothspan.wordpress…Best,BW

  11. Mac

    They really REALLY need to pick up a Bayesian junk mail filter … or buy SpamBayes…

  12. Patrick

    Fred, interesting post. Would you be interested in syndicating your content on the home page of my site? It’s an online community of finance professionals ( http://www.wallstreetoasis.com ). I could add an RSS feed that will allow me to promote your blog posts to my home page (when i think it will lead to a good discussion and/or is appropriate), but I wanted to make sure you were comfortable syndicating first. The syndicated post would have a link back to your original post. Thanks, Patrick (you can reach me at [email protected] if you have any questions).