Comcast Goes Social, Buys Plaxo, Takes a Pulse

Comcast, the Philadelphia-based cable giant, has finally announced that it’s buying Plaxo, a Mountain View, Calif.-based social networking & connected address book company, for an undisclosed amount of money. Plaxo, whose co-founders include Sean Parker, has raised $23 million since 2002 from VC firms including Sequoia Capital, Globespan Capital Partners and DAG Ventures.

This has been the worst-kept secret, with people speculating about the price of this acquisition. Plaxo and Comcast officials declined to comment on the price when I had a conference call with them earlier today. Even today the price range is being pegged between $100 million and $170 million. I have on authority that the price is $170 million including earnouts. This is yet another megamillion-dollar bet by the cable firm in its ongoing transformation into a web-based company with an eye on advertising dollars.

Plaxo Pulse is one of the most attractive aspects of Plaxo, Sam Schwartz, executive vice president of Comcast Interactive Media, said. He pointed out that this type of news feed could end up in the set-top box, and be utilized for adding social features to many Comcast services, including Fandango and Fancast. Comcast has a project called Tru2Way that allows developers to write applications for the set-top box.

While I understand that Comcast wants to socialize its various offerings, I have reservations about their ability to extend what is a more professionally focused address book-based tool into the consumer, non-techie market place. That said, Plaxo could be useful for Comcast in its small business market ,where the cable giant has had some success.

Schwartz hinted that Comcast triple-play subscribers might be able to make calls to each other using the VoIP technology via Click2Call. Free calls in regions where Comcast is available with Plaxo makes a lot of sense and has potential.

Recommended Reading: Dan Farber on Comcast-Plaxo.