Two independent sources tell us that the Microsoft/Xobni deal is moving along and that Microsoft signed an acquisition LOI in the last week. I have not yet been able to track down the price, but a previous offer of sub-$20 million was supposedly rejected by Xobni .
Bill Gates has publicly complimented the service, calling it “the next generation of social networking.”
Xobni, which launched at the TechCrunch40 conference last year, offers an outlook plugin for Windows users that significantly improves the desktop email experience (particularly search). They recently hired notable Yahoo’er Jeff Bonforte as CEO.
The timing on this is perfect as the New York Times and others are doing their seasonal focus on the problems with email. Xobni is one of the top startups trying to fix the problem.
Update: yet another source says the LOI hasn’t been signed by Xobni yet
Update 2: Xobni won’t return my emails, but they’ve told a source the following, passed on to us: “we’re staying an independent company and will be exiting beta soon.”