AOL Acquires Email Prioritization App Unblab To Boost Project Phoenix

It looks like AOL has just acquired email prioritization app Unblab, according to an email sent from Unblab’s founder Eli Holder. The acquisition was also announced on Unblab’s website. Terms of the deal were not disclosed (AOL also owns TechCrunch).

Unblab built a cloud-based Gmail app, called Gtriage, that uses common and user-specific rules to identify and prioritize important email messages. Think of it as attacking the email overload problem from the opposite end of the spectrum as the anti-spam vendors, but using similar technologies. It’s similar in theory to Gmail’s Priority Inbox.

Incubated out of Launchbox Digital, Unblab also offered a mobile app called iTriage, which attempted to learn the differences of what’s “important” when you are on a mobile device with limited real estate as compared to when you are using a pc-based webmail experience.

According to the email sent to user, Holder will be joining the AOL mail team to work on the company’s new email client Project Phoenix. It appears that the acquisition is an acq-hire, as Holder will be the only Unblab employee joining AOL.

So the assumption here is that it looks like Project Phoenix will soon get a Priority Inbox-like feature. AOL Mail represents 5 percent of the page views on the AOL network so a prioritization feature like Priority Inbox can only help the company retain email users from joining competing clients like Gmail.

Here’s part of the message from the Unblab’s email:

The next saga in the Unblab story will be even bigger, better, and more action-packed; Unblab is now part of AOL and I’ll be joining the AOL Mail team in Palo Alto to work on Project Phoenix (the new AOL Mail).

What does that mean for you (the Gtriage users)? The Gtriage service was shut down as of last night and, since you’re all Gmail users, you’re now stuck with Priority Inbox. Ouch! But don’t worry, Project Phoenix will knock your socks off!

Holder also seems to have a strange fascination with TechCrunch editor Michael Arrington, writing on the Unblab site:

Does this have something to do with Priority Inbox?

A little bit… but really I’m just following Arrington around. It was Techcrunch50 and one of his posts that got us started, so following him to AOL makes perfect sense. We’re soulmates, basically.