Blog Post

Microsoft Co-Founder Allen Starts An E-Mail Company

Stay on Top of Enterprise Technology Trends

Get updates impacting your industry from our GigaOm Research Community
Join the Community!

Paul Allen is back in the software market, with the launch of Xiant, a business that helps Outlook users organize their mail. Xiant is the latest in a growing industry of startups offering e-mail add-ons. Allen himself is also an investor in Gist, which combines e-mails from contacts with the latest news about them culled from blog posts, social-networking sites and Tweets. It raised $6.75 million in a round led by his investment firm, Vulcan Capital, last month. Another rival startup, Xobni has an Outlook plugin that pulls updates about a user’s contacts from Facebook, LinkedIn and other sites.

Vulcan, which is the only investor in Xiant, is playing up Allen’s hands-on participation in its launch, saying in a statement that it started “as a personal project to help Paul keep up with heavy e-mail traffic.” The company also says that it’s one of his “few forays into software” since he left Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) in 1983. Via Vulcan, Allen owns several sports teams, real estate in Seattle, as well as wireless spectrum. He’s also lost billions on his investment in cable company Charter Communications (NSDQ: CHTR), which filed for bankruptcy earlier this year.

Xiant files away a user’s messages based on the person’s past filing preferences. It also lets users track new messages based on their subject — so that people can follow a certain subset of messages without being distracted by all of their incoming mail. Release.