The rumors were accurate: Comcast will announce their acquisition of social contact list Plaxo today. Financial terms are not being disclosed, but the purchase price is between $150 and $170 million. Plaxo, which was founded in 2002, has raised just under $30 million in venture capital.
Plaxo says they will remain an independent organization in Silicon Valley. It will report into Comcast Interactive Media, which is a division of Comcast that develops and operates Internet businesses focused on entertainment, information and communication.
Plaxo and Comcast have been working together for the past year on a number of initiatives. Plaxo is providing the universal address book for Comcast’s SmartZone communications center (slated to launch later this year), and we are also now hosting all of the address book accounts for Comcast webmail users. Our partnership has already more than doubled the reach of the Plaxo network, bringing the total number of accounts to nearly 50 million.
Together, we intend to deliver on a vision of making “social media” a natural part of the lives of regular people, not just early-adopters. For example, you should be able to securely post family photos online in Pulse, and have them viewable by any of your family members, whether they are online, at work, on their mobile device, or in their living room watching TV. And you should be able to discover new shows to watch, based on what your friends and coworkers have recommended.
So, what about current Plaxo members? The services you know and enjoy from Plaxo will not only continue, but will continue to evolve and improve. In addition, both of our services benefit from “network effect,” which is to say that the more people who use them, the more useful they become.
This ends a long and sometimes troubled history for Plaxo, which was founded by Sean Parker, Minh Nguyen and two Stanford engineering students, Todd Masonis and Cameron Ring, in 2002. In 2006 the company finally abandoned it’s hated “viral” feature that tricked users into spamming their entire address book with Plaxo invitations.
More recently, however, Plaxo has been playing nice with the Internet. Last year they launched a popular service called Pulse, which pulls activity streams from other services into users’ Plaxo profiles. They were launch partners with Google Open Social, and announced support for DataPortability early this year. Even so, they still had the occasional misstep.
Update: The Gillmor Gang digests the news. Listen to the podcast here.