Five Years Too Late

April 16, 2010

Xobni

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — fiveyearstoolate @ 2:50 pm

I’m excited to announce RRE’s investment in Xobni. We recently led a round along with Khosla Ventures, and are thrilled to be joining the Xobni team as they continue to make email better and more useful.

This is a personally satisfying announcement for me. Those who know me well know that I’ve long admired Xobni and that Will (who joins the board in connection with our investment) and I have been looking for an opportunity to be involved with this company for almost two years. I had reached out to the Xobni folks back in 2008 shortly after I joined RRE. We look for big, unsolved problems at RRE, and I consider email to be one of them. Xobni was in between its Series A and Series B rounds at the time, but I immediately got why the company’s approach to people-centric email tools could be extremely valuable and could make users’ lives far better.

I think people see what’s on the horizon and forget the road they’re actually on. This is the only way I can rationalize the number of people I hear say “email is dead” or “social networks are the only things that matter”. I spend much of my day in email. My wife, whose professional life couldn’t be more different from mine (she’s in education) spends much of her day in email. My brother, a software developer, spends much of his day in email. My mom, a small business owner, spends much of her day in email. People spend more of their time in their email clients than any other single functional area. While there’s no question that social networking volume continues to rise (and yes, it now has more “global users” than email, whatever that means), email itself also continues to rise every year and the curve is steep.

Furthermore, email is the source of great user pain for most of us. We get too much of it. It’s hard to find things. You sent me an attachment two weeks ago but I don’t remember what it was called or to which of the 25 emails in a thread with the same “re:…” title contained it. I need your number but it’s not in your signature. I know you sent to me, but no idea when.

Xobni solves a hundred small problems and a few big ones. I use it every day throughout the day. I find it so useful that despite being a Mac native going back to the 80s, I live in a Windows environment at work. The recent Blackberry product, which goes through all my email and organically assembles a contact manager based on who actually emails me and the contents of their email (as opposed to who I remember to add and what data I include) almost has me willing to carry two phones. I am enthusiastically awaiting new Xobni products for the different mail environments in which I live besides Outlook.

Our belief is that Xobni has a half dozen viable ways to become a large profitable company. Some of the revenue-generating products are already in the market (Xobni Plus was an easy sell for me, and I bought it well before we were investors in this round; the Blackberry and Xobni One products are compelling, and the company is in the market with a well-received enterprise version), others are still on the roadmap. But ultimately our view is that when you alleviate massive user pain, your user base is primarily business users who live that pain every day, and you have a team as extraordinary as the one assembled at Xobni, the result is very significant value creation. I’m delighted to welcome Jeff and the Xobni team to the RRE family, and look forward to continuing to build a great company.

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16 Comments »

  1. Eric – we’re pumped to have you and RRE on the Xobni team. It is great to see through your written thoughts that you truly understand the vision we’re working towards. Welcome aboard!

    Comment by Matt Brezina — April 16, 2010 @ 3:59 pm

  2. Eric — great post. I agree 100% with your assessment that while email is a completely imperfect solution, it will be years before we’ve got a better one and Xobni is well-positioned to take advantage of the transition period and beyond.

    Comment by Scott Asher — April 16, 2010 @ 4:28 pm

  3. Congrats on landing this one. I know that you’ve spoken fondly of the company and service for a number of years.

    Xobni is fortunate to have you, Will and the rest of RRE on the team.

    Fraser

    Comment by Fraser — April 16, 2010 @ 4:33 pm

  4. Thanks for the insightful post, Eric. Just sent it to the whole Xobni team as a nice reminder of what we’ve built and the promise that lies ahead.

    Comment by Josh Jacobson — April 16, 2010 @ 4:56 pm

  5. You’ve scored a good one guys. I’ve had my eye on this company for well over 2 years, and they have continued to improve the product and command attention. Xobni is one technology I couldn’t go without. Well done.

    And to the Xobni guys, you’ve also scored well here. RRE is as good as it gets. Kudos.

    Comment by Andres Moran — April 16, 2010 @ 6:36 pm

  6. Happy to join the RRE family. One of the great things about Xobni, from the CEO’s perspective, is that not only do all the employees use the product all day, every day, but so do all of our investors and board members. The only downside is playing bad cop when board meetings inevitably hit the “feature request” part of the meeting :)

    Then again, it was an investor that came up with the concept features that became the BlackBerry product. True story.

    Comment by Jeff Bonforte — April 16, 2010 @ 9:33 pm

  7. Congrats on your investment in this great product. I originally downloaded the free version and gladly bought the paid version. It’s one of the few available resources that bring order to my inbox.

    Comment by Don Ryan — April 19, 2010 @ 7:26 am

  8. Eric

    this is a great news ! great investment !
    it is the only software i have paid for on my PC since longtime…
    so agreed, it is amazingly useful…
    bravo

    Comment by alessio — April 20, 2010 @ 11:21 am

  9. hi what is your myspace page

    Comment by name meanings — April 27, 2010 @ 5:22 pm

  10. i dont know why you are so happy but you just flushed your money down the toiler. the company somehow manage to take in 30MM for an outlook plugin… 5 decent developers and 2 weeks worth of some effort is all thats required to build something similar….

    seriously man, where is the grow potential. MSFT wasn’t even willing to shell out more then 20MM for this company back in a day, what makes you think they will pay even anything close to that number again (considering office 2010 will have most of these features).

    one more question you should have asked yourself before you pulled the trigger on this deal…. How in a world do you spend 30 mill on a lousy plugin?

    Comment by jay — April 29, 2010 @ 3:59 am

  11. Loved Xobni both times I installed it, before it brought my computer to its knees (both times on win xp, outlook ’07). Saving two minutes searching for a phone number is nice, but not at the expense of overall system drag.

    Comment by brian — April 29, 2010 @ 6:16 pm

    • Brian – I know others have had this problem as well, not sure why. I’ve had it on my current machine (same software configuration as yours) and others and haven’t had performance problems since early 2009.

      Comment by Eric Wiesen — April 30, 2010 @ 8:46 am

      • ok – third time’s a charm, i’ll try it again.

        Comment by Brian — May 7, 2010 @ 10:20 am

  12. I use GetMail from http://www.searchterrain.com . It searches for Outlook emails very fast. It is uncomplicated to use.

    Comment by Bhaskar Samuel — June 15, 2010 @ 12:44 am

  13. Thanks for your information.!! :)

    Comment by prakash — October 12, 2010 @ 6:46 am

  14. For organizing and searching in outlook I use Lookeen (http://www.lookeen.net)
    I prefer this one because it is so small and handy!

    Comment by Jockel — October 21, 2010 @ 8:25 am


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