A new chapter today for Digsby, the social/instant messaging client bought by social network Tagged in April 2011 and effectively put into an idle state soon after. It has now been taken open source, with its code now living on GitHub. The intention to make Digsby open source was first announced in July of this year, but TechCrunch understands that it’s only been in the last day that the source code has been completely migrated.
The move gives a new lease of life to Digsby, which integrates different messaging and email clients into a single, unified view. Back when Tagged bought the company — the first-ever acquisition for the 330-million-member, 225-country social network — it was intended partly as an aqui-hire and partly as a tech purchase. All seven employees of developer dotSyntax were joining the company and the idea eventually was to incorporate features of Digsby into Tagged, which, unlike, Facebook is primarily about meeting new people (similar to Badoo) than it is about reconnecting with those you already know.
“They have expertise and technology in real-time communications which we want to use to push into instant messaging, group chat, video chat, etc. IM is our most requested feature on Tagged,” said Tagged’s CEO Greg Tseng at the time.
But fast forward to today, and none of Digsby itself ever made it into Tagged.
“The Digsby product has remained its own entity since its acquisition and is not integrated into Tagged,” a spokesperson confirms. However, the team’s expertise did make it in. “The Digsby team was deployed into various areas within Tagged, including mobile offerings, internal tools development and other site features. ” Digsby’s founder, Steve Shapiro, is now Tagged’s director of product management.
The plan today is to keep evolving the Digsby product “as its own entity,” without any commercial intentions — for now at least. “Right now we’re just focused on enhancing the Digsby experience, but down the road we might consider additional monetization opportunities,” the spokesperson said.
When Digsby was acquired by Tagged, it had some 3 million users of its messaging client — a number that the company has not updated except to say it is now higher and “definitely growing.” Putting the source code out there for others to use might mean that more applications and functionality might get developed for those users, at a time when Tagged does not want to invest resources in developing it as a standalone product.
“As a team of passionate open source users, we felt that Digsby’s bright future should be driven both by Tagged and the development community that has so often sung its praises,” says Tseng. Indeed, it was some frustrated parts of that community that had been requesting an open source Digby for some time now.
Update: “About fucking time,” one reader wrote to me in response to this article. “Tagged bought them over a year ago and let it stagnate.”
Yes, it looks like Digsby was more or less put to one side after it was bought, but at a time when so many acquisitions mean acqui-hires, with the existing products getting shut down, at least the product lived on in some form. And now has a chance to improve.