36 Comments

Summary:

Xmarks, the bookmarks syncing service is shutting down. The San Francisco-based company quietly announced on its website today. The four-year-old company was started by Mitch Kapor, who initially funded the company. Redpoint Ventures later invested in the startup. Xmarks failed to develop a business model.

xmarksshutsdown

Updated. Xmarks, the bookmark-syncing service is shutting down, the San Francisco-based company quietly announced on its website today. Later, James Joaquin, the CEO of Xmarks tweeted about the shutdown. The four-year-old company was started by Mitch Kapor, who initially funded the company. Redpoint Ventures later invested in the startup.

In 2006, XMarks started out as a Firefox-plugin, which allowed consumers to take their browser bookmarks and save them on the Internet and sync them across multiple computers. Over the years, the company that was once known as Foxmarks, developed plugins and extensions for different browsers. The company experimented with various different business models including new search and discovery products. However, none of those caught on.

We weren’t able to find a sustainable business model for Xmarks. The advertising you may have seen on Xmarks.com generates only a small fraction of the revenue we need to cover our operational costs; we had been working hard to create search and discovery products that could take the company to profitability and beyond, but we didn’t generate enough consumer adoption or advertiser adoption of these new products.

From what I hear, the company was pretty close to selling itself to Google. Clearly that didn’t work out. The company had about 5 million active users of its various different plugins. The Xmarks syncing service will stay live through end of 2010. Most new browsers offer syncing bookmarks as a featured offering.

Update: Xmarks co-founder and CTO Todd Agulnick recounted the company’s ups and downs in a blog post today, thanking investors and users. Joaquin told me, “We made an impressive attempt to monetize our 1 billion bookmark corpus with several innovative search products, but ultimately we didn’t find a scalable business model. With Firefox and Google building sync into the browser, it’s the end of the road for Xmarks.”

You’re subscribed! If you like, you can update your settings

You're subscribed! If you like, you can update your settings

  1. Xmarks is/was an awesome service. I will have to scramble to find an alternative. Great technical team there, too.

    1. It is my favorite plugin and I use it everyday. I am going to really miss this service. It hurts to see such an awesome service go away.

      1. Me too! Use it daily between Macs and PCs, its a great tool and a big pity that they have not been able to find a sustainable biz model

      2. I would love to see leaders in our industry start a trend where amazing but hard-to-monetize software like Xmarks can get absorbed by the open source community rather than ending up gathering dust on a shelf.

        Investors could do a lot of good (and probably get back good PR and deal flow) by encouraging unsellable assets to be pushed into the public domain.

        A startup’s last act could be the creation of a free account on Github rather than the burning of a DVD that ends up in a file cabinet.

      3. But @mtrifro, this is not just a piece of software, it is a service. Open-sourcing the clients and server is not enough, someone has to burn CPU cycles in a cloud somewhere.

        Given the volume of the outcry, it seems clear to me that many people would pay for this service. Sure, maybe only a small fraction of them, and then only if the fee were modest ($1/month)? But I can’t help but think that this could become a decent business for someone, or a small handful of people.

        My only guess is this: what makes for a nice side business for one or two folks is not enough to satisfy an existing base of investors who expect more.

    2. I was being a little lazy and loose with the terms when I said “open source”; and you are so right in saying that it requires a service to be operating around it. Even pure open source code will die unless there is some steward of it.

      There are lots of great software that gets built in VC-funded companies where they are testing a BIG hypothesis (e.g., Xmarks: If we build the world’s largest corpus of bookmarks and associated metadata — tags, ratings, etc. — can we extract enough value out of it to make $xx million in yearly revenue). Often the answer is “no.” As you look at all the alternatives, often times the best possible outcome involves one or more OK-sized businesses (e.g., $1mm/yr) and that’s just not interesting to most startup entrepreneurs and investors.

      Really, then, you are left with: (a) burn a DVD, call it a liquidated asset and drop it into a filing cabinet or (b) find a home for it. Owners of preferred stock are empowered to give the wind-down team permission to push the code into the public domain or sell it for some token amount (including $0). My point was simply that those all seem like better alternatives than gathering dust on a shelf.

      Some forward-thinking investors do this already. They realize they can extract a long-term fiduciary benefit by building goodwill and give they express this by giving the wind-down team broad discretion to find homes for whatever assets might remain, but which cannot be easily monetized.

  2. Well this sucks. Google and Mozilla may be building bookmark sync into their browsers, but they don’t sync with each other. As a user of multiple browsers, Xmarks was the ideal solution. Although I can see how they would have difficulty with revenue – it’s not like there’s ever much of a reason to visit Xmarks.com.

  3. this is really not good news; Foxmarks/Xmarks is great at what it does, and great at working across multiple platforms. None of the browser specific solutions will do that…it’s really nice way for my work machine’s IE8 to stay in sync with my Chrome browser on my home computer

  4. Yours is the best sync solution for multibrowser. I would gladly pay a subscription fee for this service, as I do for Dropbox. Habe you considered asking that of the users?

  5. RIP, it was a great product, and for free, I guess it was unsustainable..

    1. Seems apropos:
      http://www.hulu.com/watch/2315/saturday-night-live-first-citywide-change-bank-2
      “All the time our customers ask us: how do you make money doing this? The answer is simple: volume.”

  6. nooooooooooooo

  7. Now what the hell I’m I going to use to achieve this task. I LOVE the idea of “re-doing” a computer and having my browser up and running in seconds with all the stuff I need and I’m used to. This is sucks but I’m sure that there will be a replacement soon. At least I hope so.

  8. RIP XMarks – Can You Build A Viable Business Around Browser Extensions? Monday, September 27, 2010

    [...] XMarks To Shut Down (gigaom.com) [...]

  9. I keep thinking someone in the open source community should offer to take this on. Mozilla have Firefox Home for the iPhone – maybe they could use Xmarks as a way of getting the Firefox brand onto other browsers…

  10. Xmarks Shuts Down After Failing To Sell Its Search Engine Monday, September 27, 2010

    [...] since the spring, but after getting “remarkably close” to a deal, the buyer backed out. GigaOM says Xmarks was close to selling to Google, though that’s not been confirmed anywhere as far as I [...]

  11. This is one of the worst news I have read this year. ex Foxmarks, now Xmarks has been one of the 3 plugins for Firefox that I always installed anywhere i went.

    As a IT Support analyst, always on the run and going to customers’ locations for assistance, xmarks provides me with the comfort of having my bookmarks and toolbar looking IDENTICAL on any machine I need to work on.

    I would gladly pay a monthly or yearly fee to keep this service running.

  12. Anvarzon Zurajev Tuesday, September 28, 2010

    I do hope that someone will pick them up until the service vanishes. If Dropbox guys would buy them out, this would be a match made in heaven.

  13. sell it to facebook! people would love to have a ”bookshelf of internet ‘literature’.” that others would browse-just another ‘look at me’ self-obsessed application that facebook could be selling.

  14. I don’t understand – to me as a user xmarks had subscription model written all over it. I’d have paid 20 or 30 dollars a year for it I reckon.

    1. I know, isn’t it interesting? If you read the blog they dismiss this possibility rather quickly.

  15. I’d pay 20 or 25 bucks a year, sadly many people just don’t have the money who are on retirement or whatnot like my folks.

    Maybe 25 bucks for a family 3-site license a year. Come to think of it, I’d pay my folks subscription too. It’s THAT good. Is there ANY chance they might introduce a subscription by end of year??? I had no idea they were that hard hit.

    Somebody with clout start a petition to keep them alive, spread the word, this was the first I heard of it.

  16. XMarks to Shut Down: Tech News « | Scott Ashjian News Tuesday, September 28, 2010

    [...] rest is here: XMarks to Shut Down: Tech News « Comments [...]

  17. Jean-Patrick Smith Tuesday, September 28, 2010

    Aww – I was ecstatic to find out xMarks started to support Chrome and I could keep my bookmarks in good order…

    SAVE XMARKS

  18. This is terrible news. I use Xmark for a long time and in different browsers and PC platform.
    Is there any chance it continues to work on under a different company or so?

    Or even better if no one buys or invest on it they could make it open source so we can host it on our own servers.
    ;)

    Thanks for the good tool.

  19. I know I´m not going to find something like it. I guess all I can say is thanks for this helpful tool, too bad it had to go to an end.

    I insist please give us an option, some of us will gladly pay for this service.

  20. Garrett Gwiazda Tuesday, September 28, 2010

    This is a real bummer. I just started using XMarks and I thought it is/was a great product. Has anyone found a good alternative yet?

  21. I’m really sad,thank guys,good luck.
    Now i choose xmarklet.com .

  22. please save xmarks!!! please!!!

  23. As an alternative solution for XMarks users, Infoaxe (http://www.infoaxe.com) offers free cross browser syncing of bookmarks and Web History. We are building an importer for XMarks users to easily transition to the service bringing their data with them.

    XMarks was one of the best bookmark sync tools on the web! Sad to see them shut down.

    Jonathan Siddharth, co-founder Infoaxe

  24. Xmarks must not die!

    We need your help/support: Our favorite Firefox tool need to survive!
    Help to keep it alive on http://bit.ly/xmarks-must-not-die

  25. Xmarks is a great service and there is NO alternative that handles synching bookmarks, history and tabs ACROSS all browsers. If you use Xamrks, go to their pledge page and pledge to save it. If you’ve never used XMarks and you use multiple web browsers, you need this tool. http://www.pledgebank.com/XmarksPremium

  26. Google Chrome User Thursday, October 7, 2010

    Google Chrome will store and synchronize your passwords with your Google account.

  27. Xmarks Syncs Desktop Bookmarks With Android: Mobile Technology News « Friday, December 31, 2010

    [...] useful Xmarks service nearly shut down this past September, but gained a new lease on life when it was acquired by LastPass earlier this month. For people [...]

Comments have been disabled for this post