March 20, 2011

An important milestone – and it’s only the beginning!

This week’s relaunch of Plaxo and introduction of Plaxo Personal Assistant marks an important milestone for our company, and I hope a key signal to you that we’re focused on building always accurate, up to date contact list – accessible wherever and whenever you need it.

Our CEO Justin Miller has said, “Plaxo is back and we’ve got a relentless focus on the address book,” and we are determined to solve the two customer pain points Plaxo was founded in 2002 to address:

  1. Contacts scattered across multiple devices, services
  2. Maintaining up-to-date address book info

The Plaxo Personal Assistant goes after that second problem with updates sourced by publicly available information and for our Plaxo Basic users we’ve also recently added contact card sharing. As for problem #1 we’ve reinvested in Plaxo Platinum Sync and made our mobile sync apps all free.

For a glimpse into our mission here at Plaxo check out this 60 second video.

To give you a sense of the scale of our efforts, we’ve reviewed 3 billion contacts in Plaxo’s Cassandra database, compared them with publicly available data sources, and identified approximately 600 million unique people with contact info—as a comparison the White Pages, which powers the Hiya contact management system, claims 200 million. It’s this massive scale that enables us to make suggestions that our customer’s report is correct about 92% of the time.

While this week’s news marks a big step forward in solving the problems above we’re far from done and you should expect a regular cadence of additional improvements as we continue to listen to your feedback.

The smart address book category is finally starting to see some focus, maturity, and a healthy dose of competition, which has sparked an unprecedented era of innovation. We expect to play a leadership role as this space continues to grow and evolve.

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About the Author

View Plaxo Profile >>
Preston Smalley

GM and Head of Product

As GM I head the product and marketing teams. I also am an Entrepreneur at Comcast Silicon Valley where Plaxo operates. Former user experience design and product strategy leader from eBay with MBA from UC Berkeley.

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Comments
  • Paul C.

    Really disappointed at the pricing of the ‘Personal Assistant’. $119 a year? (Platinum Sync plus Personal Assistant – would anyone seriously get one without the other?).

    While I’m glad you guys are finally innovating again (good to see you get your mojo back), that pricing seems rather high to me. I’m so disappointed that I’m honestly thinking of bailing on Plaxo altogether, frankly – and I’ve been a member and advocate since your first beta test.

    • http://www.prestonsmalley.com Preston Smalley

      We are seeing quite a bit of interest in the product even at the current price point and you’re exactly right that most people are buying the bundle which saves them 15% (we’re also offering the bundle for just $60 for our existing Platinum Sync customers).

      Thanks for recognizing our innovation of late. Even if you don’t want to opt for the paid subscriptions we’re going to keep adding more benefits to our free Plaxo Basic product (e.g. De-Duper and Mobile now included).

  • http://www.saltedlolly.com Olly S

    I agree with Paul C. I have been a user for years, and am glad to see that you guys seem to be back focusing on the real problem of address book decay, but I think that the offering is way to expensive. I am giving it a trial run, but I am doubtful I will stick with it at that price point unless I see it producing spectacular results. So far it has only found updates from Plaxo itself (which to be honest I thought we got automatically already?)

    Still I still think that it is a clever idea to a difficult problem. It’s just hard to see from a user point of view how powerful it is….

    PS I’d live to see Foursquare integration so I can see where my contacts are. :)

    • http://www.prestonsmalley.com Preston Smalley

      Thanks Olly S. for your support (and recent tweets complimenting Personal Assistant). You’re right that you should continue to get updates from other Plaxo members for free–in fact we’re going to promote that more in the coming months. As to not getting other updates that concerns me, so let me know if you still aren’t seeing any from other sources (e.g. ZoomInfo).

      As you say, address book decay is a very difficult problem and we’ll ultimately be judged by how good of suggestions we make to each member. Feel free to email (preston at plaxo) or DM me with any specific feedback.

      Finally, there alot more social context that we could provide around each contact (recent location, recent emails/calls, latest tweet) that I could see us adding down the road but probably not in the coming months.

      • http://www.saltedlolly.com Olly S

        I did get a few Zoominfo updates (maybe 10 contacts, I forget) but nothing very ground breaking there. One thing I did notice in the suggestions, is that sometimes it was suggesting to remove an email and also to add that same email. You might want to look in to that.

        Also it might be good if the personal assistant also looked for duplicates within a contact. e.g. Two instances of the same Work Email and remove them.

        Maybe also looking for duplicates across fields (eg The same number listed as Home and Mobile)

        Another question: with this shift are you planning to completely ditch Plaxo Pulse, or is it just that it won’t be the number one priority? I think it would be a shame to remove it…. I actually think it offers different data versus FB.

        • http://www.prestonsmalley.com Preston Smalley

          Thanks Olly S, we’ll review your suggestions to see what can be learned to hone how we improve our algorithms going forward. Also we do want to work at removing duplicate fields per contact.

          As for Plaxo Stream/Pulse you’re right in saying it isn’t a priority for us. We’re looking to move away from it as a “publishing platform” where you go to share your own status and instead use the platform to inform you better of what your contacts are sharing elsewhere (e.g. twitter, facebook, quora) regardless of whether they use Plaxo or not. What do you think of that? What aspects to you like best about it today?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=702698179 Keith Hawkins

    I think that if Plaxo is just foucsing on address books than they need to sync the other accounts like windows live, yahoo, and others. Not just import the contacts. Also a two way talk with facebook would be great, not just one.

    • http://www.prestonsmalley.com Preston Smalley

      Agree with you Keith as an address book’s only good if its where you need it. We’ve got on our 2011 list working to get Windows Live and Yahoo sync added to the mix–no ETA yet but we’re definitely looking into it.

    • http://www.prestonsmalley.com Preston Smalley

      One follow up question regarding Facebook. By two way sync with FB what would you like to see Plaxo write back to Facebook? We’ve found that people tend to want to keep only a subset of their address book as “friends” in Facebook.

      • Anonymous

        I don’t want my address book to be synced back to facebook – I have over 1000 entries in my address books, many of them work or casual acquaintances, and for sure I don’t want to connect with over 100 people on facebook, only closest friends.

        • http://www.prestonsmalley.com Preston Smalley

          I agree with you jbernardo about not wanting Facebook sync to be two-way which is why I asked Keith the question. Facebook reports that people on average have 130 “friends” where as we see address books on Plaxo to be about 220 on average (with many in the thousands). I don’t think thats a coincidence as there are a number of people I have in my address book that I don’t want to be Facebook friends with (e.g. my electrical, everyone I know at work, etc).

  • Jonathan

    Very happy to see that Plaxo is once again focusing on address book — the reason many of us signed up for plaxo in the first place. It would be helpful if marketing materials expxlained the difference between “personal assistant” and the automatic updates that continue to be (?) included in basic and platinum sync. In the meantime, could you do so here?

    • http://www.prestonsmalley.com Preston Smalley

      Jonathan–
      I can see that we’d be wise to lay out the differences between the auto updates included in Plaxo Basic vs. Personal Assistant on our marketing pages. In the mean time, here’s how I’d compare the two:

      1. Included free in Plaxo Basic: Updates from other Plaxo members when they decide to share their contact card with you or make it public. This is historically a function that Plaxo’s offered and the reason as you say many people joined. More info: http://bit.ly/fBdVjb

      2. Included as part of Plaxo Personal Assistant subscription: Adds a new way to update contact info in your address book by sourcing publicly available info from third parties without any effort on the part of your contacts and without requiring them to join Plaxo.

      Two ways to keep your address book up-to-date. Finally Platinum Sync enables you to keep the contact information you have with Plaxo in sync across all your address books and devices.

      http://www.plaxo.com/products

      Thanks!
      Preston

  • SSC

    Is there a xpi comming in the near future for Mozilla Thunderbird 3.1.9 ?

  • C J

    I am dissapointed that the reasons I used Plaxo seem to have been undermined by the relaunch. I used it as a networking system (like LinkedIn) and posted status updates which then appeared on my own website (together with a pulse stream of tweets).

    I noticed recently that the Plaxo widget on my website had stopped and it no longer updates. I seem to have no other option but to remove it.

    • http://twitter.com/plaxohelp plaxocare

      We’ve found that our social publishing features (e.g. sharing status, messages, links, photos) were not highly used and that most had turn elsewhere for solutions. Given our refocus on the address book space we’ve decided to remove the features and you can read more on our blog: "Where’s Plaxo Pulse?

      Further, since the Plaxo Widget for Websites Retires on 10/31.. To make this transition easier for our widget users, we suggest using CloudSponge – http://t.co/SZJoXHYd..

      Thank you

  • http://www.ryanmalone.com Ryan Malone

    I am not even at the point of considering assistant since Plaxo continues to scramble my contacts.  I have spent more time fixing them then I could have carrying flash card with me. Great idea – painful execution.  How about working on just making sync work properly.

    • http://twitter.com/plaxohelp plaxocare

      Hi Ryan – I’m sorry that you are facing this issue. Are you seeing an error message? We would be happy to assist you in setting up sync.. Could you please email us – http://www.plaxo.com/ask, so that we can reach you?

      Thank you