Is Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer giving the search company an intelligence facelift? That’s what tech blogger Drew Alanoff said when Yahoo purchased social-recommendation app Jybe, one of at least 14 tools Yahoo has acquired in the past year, including OnTheAir, Summly and Tumblr. Now Mayer is hoping to buy social email plugin Xobni—‘inbox’ spelled backward—for between $30 million and $40 million, likely in an effort to upgrade Yahoo’s own email product.
Xobni creates a profile for each of user’s email contacts with correspondence history and information derived from social networks, including LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Skype and Hoovers. Although the San Francisco-based startup began with a plugin for Microsoft Outlook, Xobni is now also compatible with Gmail, Yahoo mail, Smartr Contacts apps for Android and iOS, as well as Apple’s iCloud. But a Yahoo acquisition would mean the popular plugin would be exclusive to Yahoo, and could serve as a draw for potential clients.
Of course any offer is purely rumor until the ink is dry on the contract, but the possible Yahoo acquisition of Xobni in many ways mirrors Yahoo’s purchase of Jybe, which was staffed by former Yahoo employees. Yahoo co-founder David Filo previously worked with Xobni CEO Jeff Bonforte, who was previously vice president of social search and real time communications at Yahoo. At the same time, Xobni has turned down acquisition proposals in the past. In 2008 the startup turned down an estimated $20 million offer from Microsoft. Although the Yahoo offer is as much as double that amount, Xobni isn’t hurting for quick cash. It has already raised $40 million from investors, including First Round Capital, Khosla Ventures and Y Combinator.
According to All Things D, Xobni isn’t the only app designer on Yahoo’s radar right now, either. Unnamed sources told the AllThingsD that Yahoo is considering as much as a $50 million offer to acquire Qwiki, an iPhone app that lets users create movie clips from photos, music and video.