ContactZilla is another take on the unified address book. Or more specifically, it’s being pitched as an online ‘Contact Management System’ for businesses designed with the Social Web in mind and the ability to merge contacts from the likes of Twitter and LinkedIn with more traditional sources. The service, built by Bristol, UK-based web development agency Simpleweb, is currently in private Beta but TechCrunch Europe has 200 invites.
Of course, this kind of offering has been tried before – and many startups are playing in and around the social CRM space. However, ContactZilla hopes to differentiate itself by remaining free compared to more traditional offerings such as Gist or Capsule.
Instead, Simpleweb plans to generate money from ContactZilla’s own marketplace/app store – so there’s a platform play here – which will fill in missing functionality and make the service (in theory at least) infinitely expandable. That’s if devs take the bait, although the company has already developed a number of add-ons of its own. The market functionality already exists too, though it’s not been exposed in private Beta form. The service will also roll out a form of advertising. Think B2B introductions.
As for what’s available right now: ContactZilla works pretty much as you’d expect. You sign-up, name your business and begin importing contacts from your social graph – currently, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google (support for Facebook is planned too). Other sources include, CSV, Basecamp, FreeAgent, Freshbooks, Vcard, Outlook and the Mac Address book. After the import takes place, which can take a while for Twitter, you then have the option to merge contacts across the different networks, though ContactZilla will try to do some of this for you, as well being able to ‘validate’ contacts, which involves asking them to confirm their details. Each contact can also have notes and tasks attached to their info, along with Maildrop functionality, all of which is provided through ‘apps’ built using the ContactZilla API.
As already noted, the app is in Beta – and it looks like early days. The next release will, however, add Facebook import, “smart lists” and expose the API, which will lead to an iPhone app before spring, says the company. It’s also worth remembering that Simpleweb has form: for example, they were the agency sourced to build Zubworld.com, with other projects including a stakeholder CRM tool for DEFRA. Simpleweb also say that they’re currently in talks with a number of VC’s and angels, having been self-funded to date.
To get in on the ContactZilla Beta, use the code: Techcrunch (via this page) until the 200 invites go.