Thursday, February 28, 2008

Xobni in Newsweek: Reinventing the Inbox

NewsweekWe'll be in next week's Newsweek: "Reinventing the Inbox: Tech firms are trying to combine e-mail with social-networking tools."

One of the leading startups in this new field is Xobni. The San Francisco firm hopes to capitalize on dissatisfaction with swelling IN boxes that make the eyes glaze over. "Google organized all the information on the Web," says cofounder Matt Brezina. "Nobody's really done that for your personal information."
Here's the best part:

Xobni is looking at other ways to expand the social possibilities of the IN box. One project in development is called Stay in Touch, which looks at your e-mail pattern and creates a list of the people you once sent e-mail to but haven't been in touch with recently. "We call it the ex-girlfriend finder," says Brezina.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Bill Gates demos Xobni

Earlier this morning, Bill gates demo'd Xobni at the Office Developers Conference in San Jose, California.

Here's a link to the webcast. The demo is about 44 minutes in.

And some quotes from the show:

"Xobni - it's actually the word inbox spelled backwards: This is where someone has come into Outlook and decided to add value. "You look over there to the right, that's their unique display area. They help you understand how you communicate, what groups of people you work with."

"In fact, this is really a social networking set of capabilities, but brought into Outlook itself. So we think it's very, very cool to look at mail messages, extract information, they give you statistics about email patterns. It lets you manage relationships. It actually understands the richness of different types of relationships, which is I think the next generation in social networking. Not just one set of friends who all see the same thing, but rather different relationships and the way you connect up and share information."

"This is a great example of having something like Xobni come in and extend things. It lets us see where people want new capabilities in the Outlook-type environment."

Update: A short video clip with Bill's demo is now on YouTube.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Us vs. the Snow

I haven't written a blog entry in a while, and I wanted to write a post about Xobni stuff and how we're moving the company into 3rd gear. We're still working really hard on adding new cool stuff and fixing bugs, but that doesn't feel like news. Instead, here's a photo story about how we got snowed in two weekends ago.

We started driving to Tahoe pretty late on a Friday night, and thus got stuck in traffic and rain on the Bay Bridge. It rained so hard that on the lower floor of the bridge, rain was coming in sideways and traffic came slowed to a crawl. The car was a rented Zipcar Honda Element, packed full with snowboards, skis, Tyler, the L, the M, and myself.

By the time we got to Folsom, we were feeling pretty good about our progress and decided to stop by the local Applebee's for a hearty meal. Tyler and L are pictured with cheap Margaritas below.

It's always useful to chat up the locals at these places and I told a woman that we're driving to South Lake Tahoe. She screamed "You need to have snowchains! If you don't have them, they won't let you go past Placerville. If you don't have chains, you're gonna die!"

It was 10:45 pm. The Walmart in Folsom, we're told, closes at 11:00 pm. Ignoring every speed limit, we raced to the store, and arrived there with 5 minutes left to go. The sales associate found snowchains that would almost fit, and proposed we should also buy bungie cords to make sure they don't fall off. Sketchy, but our only option. We felt well prepared.

One and a half hours later, we arrive in South Lake Tahoe. The road was barely even icy. No snowchains needed! What a waste, we think. We meet up with my Swiss friends from Google: Markus, Sandra, Robin, and Marius. We sleep.

The next day of snowboarding is awesome! Great weather and good views. Here's the lake and Tyler with his disintegrating parka (It was 10 years old and was continually shedding little pieces of itself during the entire trip):

And this is the rest of the team – unorganized:

And organized:

At the end of the day, Markus decides to jump in the lake! But at first we can't find the way there. Robin almost falls into the covered pool, though.

And here he is. Markus and the lake. Brrrr.

The next morning, we wake up and everything is covered in snow!

Little did we know that the snow wasn't kidding. By 2 pm that day, there's a snowstorm on the mountain, Heavenly is closing lifts, and we're stuck on the wrong side of the mountain where Tyler has to pick us up.

Suddenly, our Walmart adventure 2 days earlier doesn't seem that stupid after all. The snowchain mounting operation begins.

Instead of trying to climb up 50, we decide to drive up to I-80, where we have a better chance of getting home the same day. But a few miles outside of Kings Beach, the police shuts down 267, and we wait 2 hours for it to reopen. While we're waiting, the Honda's battery dies, but a friendly overprepared Russian gives us a jump. I-80 is closed as well due to zero visibility, so M books us a place at the Best Western. I negotiate the price down by $20 (I tried hard!).

The morning after: 3 more feet (1m) of snow! Here's M wiping the snow off the hood.

Four hours and more sliding later, we arrive in San Francisco, half a day of vacation poorer, but one adventure richer!