Okay, making Plaxo look lame isn’t that hard. But as Plaxo has been groping around the past year trying to turn itself into a social network to attract a buyer (cough, Comcast), a little startup in the Netherlands called Soocial has been building a kick-ass contact management service that syncs all of your contacts between your desktop, cell phone, and a growing list of Web services. This company won one of the vote-in demo spots at the Next Web conference in Amsterdam (CEO Stefan Fountain pictured above), and their video demo featuring David Hasselhoff (shown below) stole the show. TechCrunch has 300 invites to the beta that you can grab here.
Soocial is not yet everything it could be, but it has a lot of potential, and its approach to syncing contacts is the right one. Right now, it supports an impressive 400 phones, contacts in Gmail, 37Signals’ Highrise CRM app, and contacts in your Mac address book on your desktop. (You gotta love a startup whose beta software works only on a Mac.) Support for Outllook on Windows machines is coming soon, as is syncing with LinkedIn, and contacts in Windows Live and Yahoo.
With all of these services and devices, if you add a contact in one, it updates your contact list and details everywhere else. This two-way syncing is what is really impressive. It even works with the iPhone, although only by syncing through iTunes on the desktop. Soocial also has a lame Facebook app, because Facebook does not allow syncing of contacts yet.
As more services open up with data portability and open APIs, Soocial will add them as well. All Soocial wants to do is sync your contacts no matter where you keep them. It is not trying to be a social network, and it is not trying to grow by spamming its users friends. “Not everybody has friends, but everybody has contacts,” says Fountain.
The startup is based in Arnhem, the Netherlands, and has raised 300,000 Euros from angel investors. It was founded in November, 2006. The business model is unclear, but the founders hope to be able to charge subscriptions to power users. Enjoy the video:
(Photo by Anne Helmond)