Xoopit Turns Inbox Into a Social Network

46 Comments

Xoopit, a San Francisco-based company, has developed technologies that can turn your GMail (or for that matter, any IMAP email) account into a social environment that is most relevant to you. The company, which also is announcing a new $5 million round of funding from Accel Partners and Foundation Capital, is part of a growing number of startups that view the inbox as the ultimate social network.

As I have argued time and time again, the inbox and the mobile address book are two natural social environments. It’s heartening to see innovators trying to capitalize on simple common sense. Of course, it’s even more delicious that giants who own our inboxes — Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and AOL — are simply twiddling their thumbs.

If you take two of the more popular social networks — Linked In (professional) and Facebook (personal) –- as examples, the amount of email generated by these systems (if you don’t want to spend your entire day logged into them, that is) is astounding. [digg=http://digg.com/programming/Xoopit_Will_Turn_Your_Inbox_Into_a_Social_Network]

So it stands to reason that if you could develop hooks to various social services from within your email inbox, your entire experience would be much easier to manage. This is Xoopit’s approach. It’s launching a Firefox plug-in that basically looks through your GMail and automatically imports information from major photo and video services such as YouTube, Flickr, Kodak, Shutterfly and Picasa Web.

In other words, if you receive a URL link from one of your friends via an email, the photos appear in what’s essentially a gallery view. Similarly, you can share your photo and video galleries with your address book contacts without making your friends go to different sites; simply clicking on a photo rearranges the layout of GMail to offer you the option to share. (Check out the gallery of screenshots.)

Xoopit is basically trying to tame some of the madness that our inboxes have become. As I pointed out in a column published in Business 2.0 last year, we have started to use our inboxes as a digital dumpster into which we dropped everything. What used to be a messaging platform has now become a media-sharing tool. So far my experience with Xoopit has been exemplary and I would highly recommend it to anyone who lives in his or her Google Mail (or Google Apps) inbox.

The company plans to make the service work with other web mail systems, including Yahoo Mail, Hotmail and AOL — as well as the social networks — later this year. Until Xoopit starts to play nice with all email systems, however — desktop and web mail systems — it will only have a partial utility. They need to start thinking beyond Firefox and start worrying about Internet Explorer, which is still a dominant browser.

On the surface, Xoopit looks like a web-services aggregator, but under the hood, the company has developed some core technologies. In fact, Xoopit’s back end is what makes it an interesting company: The more people it signs up, the more compute power it would need to crawl, search and display all the media files.

Although the company’s hardware requirements are susceptible to getting out of whack, CEO Bijan Marashi tells me that it has developed technologies to keep everything ticking, among them a quasi-file system that allows it to easily search and collate the files that reside in email servers. It’s using a search methodology it has developed itself, along with its Hadoop-based back end. Given that most of the early team members have come from Inktomi, I am guessing they know a thing or two about scaling.

If you want to try Xoopit, go here and grab an invite.

46 Comments

tools

I think Xoops want to have a competition with facebook and twitter to attract people

Wanita Cantik

I agree with this coment if This sounds very good.But the main thing is regarding security i.e privacy.
JK said,v can think of Xoopit as a mail client, which makes it possible for us to access our mail data.I hope all this would succeed before Yahoo launches a more social inbox at CES in competition to Xoopit. Thanks for sharing…

Deeper Voice

Something scares me about this. At least with Social Networking sites, I don’t have to give somebody an in-route to my personal email.

Widodo

sounds too complicated to move me, even though it’s probably a good idea. I’d have to wait until 5 of my friends were using it before I’d consider it.

cebu seo

Great technology feature. I just wonder how they came up with the concept of it and make such an interesting project.

Busby

With time spent in one’s email increasing day by day, it does make sense and in a way is ineveitable that social interaction will be driven from the inbox beyond just sending out emails.

Your inbox will soon be your one stop window to everything you do especially with the way Open ID and the like is being implemented.

ale

This is just basura, social networks are a new ibubble that will sink down in a short term.

Michael Wiegand

@Boris Mann:

Right there with you. Something scares me about this. At least with Social Networking sites, I don’t have to give somebody an in-route to my personal email.

I’d definitely set up a separate address if I ever did this.

bijan marashi

leo – we believe yahoo’s work inside their mail platform products will help dedicated third party applications developers like us the ability to deliver value from them to their audiences.

bijan marashi

shout outs to xobni on the desktop from xoopit on the web. we love how you guys dropped sweetness into the mail client. sort of a pain, eh? ;)

Jammer

I really like it. It has a shot at making my Gmail experience a bit more fun. My view is simple: 90 percent my text emails boring work stuff, and the standard Gmail experience is a decent solve there. 99 percent of my pictures and videos in my email are from friends, and are what I look at for entertainment. Xoopit takes the fun stuff and makes is easy to navigate, respond to, and pass on (kind of paraphrasing what they highlighted as their focus, which is OK, sinmce it did capture what I felt). I like the focus on not trying to be all things to all people at launch (the death of a startup) – fixing email is a multi-year journey, and these guys, Xobni, and others are leading us to a (hopefully) better place.

Roald Cyberath

It seemed like a good idea, so I tried it.
It doesn’t work as I expect… it shows only old pictures from Flickr.
Even when I log out of it, it stays as a bothering yellow bar on top of my Inbox. And it conflicts (screen-wise) with RememberTheMilk (which I like).
I’ll uninstall and wait for a more mature version.

rick

sounds too complicated to move me, even though it’s probably a good idea. I’d have to wait until 5 of my friends were using it before I’d consider it

Leo F. Swiontek

Xoopit Will Turn Your Inbox Into a Social Network :

This sounds very good.But the main thing is regarding security i.e privacy.
JK said,v can think of Xoopit as a mail client, which makes it possible for us to access our mail data.I hope all this would succeed before Yahoo launches a more social inbox at CES in competition to Xoopit.

Jonathan Katzman

Hi, this is JK, one of Xoopit’s founders. We’ve seen the comments regarding email passwords and privacy issues here and elsewhere. You can think of Xoopit as a mail client, which makes it possible for you to access your mail data. We use industry best practices to secure our service and encrypt your password and have rigorous internal policies on the same.

We just put up a very frank post on our blog on how we manage your data.

http://blog.xoopit.com/2008/03/how-xoopit-mana.html

Please comment or email me if you would like to have a further conversation on this.

john

I really like the product. The biggest failing of lots of these “reinvent communications” experience is the assumption I hate my current email experience and want to abandon it. Nothing could be further from the truth – I just want to improve it. Both Xoopit and Xobni got one thing right: they managed to find a way to deliver important functionality within the email experiences I use (Gmail and Outlook).

xxdesmus

I am having a very hard time turning over my login information to my Gmail account to some random web company. This sounds very cool, but I don’t think I can trust a random company. WAY too many important emails in my account.

Boris Mann

Aaarrgrggh! First step, give XoopIt your gmail address AND password. No way!

I really can’t recommend anyone giving the keys to their account away — this is exactly what new methods of authentication are trying to avoid.

Om Malik

@ Tyler,

Yahoo made big noise about it, but it hasn’t done anything since. no updates, no projects, just talk… lot of it.!

Tyler

You say that the big players aren’t doing anything like this, but didn’t Yahoo make an announcement about a more social inbox at CES? I thought I remembered reading about that on Techcrunch or somewhere.

Brooke

This sounds like it’ll definitely clean up my inbox, so I’m not so overwhelmed anymore. Glad someone thought of it!

Rebecca

I like the idea of an aggregator to help simplify the number of networks I’m signing into every day.

Trying it out now…

Rebecca

Matt Brezina

Ah Om, you forgot to mention the first to market “X” company with a eerily similar blue and green logo http://www.xobni.com How crazy is that?

The Xoopit guys are great and we are happy to have some other innovators playing in the space. The problem of information overload and organization within email is a huge pain point for millions of people. For all of your readers that spend hours/day frustrated in Outlook, they can sign up for the Xobni beta at http://www.xobni.com.

Cheers,
Matt Brezina
Co-founder, Xobni

Randy Stewart

Om-

Couldn’t agree with you more on the inbox being the center of the social network. Despite all the folks using Facebook and other social networking sites, the largest, open social network exists in email. The trouble with all that openness, of course, is spam.

Since we spoke (http://gigaom.com/2007/11/28/outlook-add-ons/), Boxbe is giving regular email users the same privileges that a Faceboook user enjoys. We’ve added additional social features to extend someone’s email guest list to include friends of their friends.

What this does is make it easier for email from real people to get through unhindered while leaving spam dead in the water.

As for Xoopit, I’m a photographer myself, so it looks like something I’d love to use. I’ll be clicking through post haste.

Glad to see you are feeling better, Om.

Cheers,
Randy Stewart
randy@boxbe.com

bijan marashi

Thanks Om!

Love to have you all take xoopit for a spin. We would also love your feedback and will do our best to be very responsive. You can send us feedback at: feedback@xoopit.com

INTERNET EXPLORER USERS:

You can access your Xoopit using Internet Explorer at http://www.xoopit.com. From Xoopit.com, you can browse and share your inbox media.

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