Lockerz’s Pivot Continues As It Sells AddToAny, A Link Sharing Tool, Back To Its Founder

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Lockerz, the social commerce and photo sharing network that has been busy working on a new fashion site called Ador, has taken one more step to streamline its operations: it is offloading social sharing platform AddToAny back to Pat Diven, the man who boostrapped and sold the startup to Lockerz almost exactly two years ago.

Update: Diven has now updated the AddToAny blog with his own announcement, the first post there since November 2011.

The move comes at a time when Lockerz has made an number of other streamlining efforts. These have included closing down offices and laying off staff and shutting down its Plixi photo sharing API, while also working on a the whole new, newly branded Ador site. Others have left to do their own new things, like SlimSurveys, started by two of the people who worked on TweetPhoto (Plixi).

That’s a lot of change in the wake of the company’s founder, Kathy Savitt, leaving her role as CEO to join Yahoo as CMO. To date, Lockerz has raised some $43.5 million from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Liberty Media, DAG Ventures and more.

Diven wouldn’t say what was behind the sale of AddToAny — whether Lockerz was going to shut it down and he swooped in to save it, or whether he simply approached them, sensing an opportunity amidst the rest of the reshuffling. “I really can’t say much about the deal,” he tells TechCrunch. “I will say that I am incredibly passionate about serving the needs of web publishers, and I’m very excited to continue serving under the AddToAny brand.” It doesn’t appear that Lockerz will continue to use AddToAny’s platform or data in the wake of the sale.

Diven is not disclosing the price he has paid to buy back AddToAny — just as Lockerz never revealed the financial terms of the original deal. After selling the service back in 2011, he tells me he “worked for Lockerz for about one year, angel invested in a handful of startups, and have been working on several unannounced side projects.”

Now he’s channelling his energies back into AddToAny. That will involve making more improvements to the sharing service and also, with a hat-tip to all the attention RSS has been getting in the last several months, rework AddToAny’s subscription service.

AddToAny is designed mainly to work with open source software-based websites such as those built on WordPress and Drupal, as well as Blogger and Tumblr blogs. Diven won’t divulge the names of customers but says that throughout the company’s acquisition by and live at Lockerz, it’s been used by third parties and is currently profitable. “Some of those websites are well known organizations and major brands, and many more are the niche and so-called ‘Long Tail’ content websites across every category,” he says. “Work is under way on the brighter future I’ve long envisioned for web publishers.”

It will continue to remain bootstrapped, he says. That’s impressive when you contrast AddToAny to the two companies Diven considers its closest competitors, ShareThis (which has raised some $44 million) and AddThis ($58 million in VC backing).

Diven explains the business model behind AddToAny like this (for those of you who follow analytics companies this will sound familiar): publishers can store their own data for free, a process the company makes automatic in many cases (“such as automatically piping sharing analytics into a publisher’s Google Analytics”); he adds that the process is easy enough using AddToAny’s APIs for other cases. Then, the company sells anonymous and aggregated usage and sharing data only to a select number of vetted companies.

“The data goes to making the ads users see more relevant (instead of generic), without having to use personally identifiable information,” he says. “Notably and intentionally, AddToAny is now the only major universal sharing platform that does not store PII. User registration isn’t even an option.”

The company doesn’t disclose customer and user numbers, but it does look like further down the line there may be more analytics revealed through the platform.

“I’m not privy on recent interesting stats but we have an eye for findings,” he told me. In 2009, for instance, he says AddToAny was the first to notice Facebook link sharing eclipse email sharing. “I’ve got a few deeper potential trends I’m excited to examine once we’re ramped up,” he adds.