xmarks multiple=

Back on September 27th, 2010 Todd Agulnick Co-Founder and CTO of Xmarks, Inc. announced in the company blog that the Xmarks service would cease operations due to funding issues. The community — which includes myself — would have none of that and not let their beloved cross-browser syncing service go without a fight and it worked! Although not signed and in-writing, Xmarks has received several offers from multiple companies ready and willing to take over operations.

I’ve used Xmarks for about a year now and I am one of the users that can’t imagine living without the service. While Google Chrome and Firefox browsers offer bookmark sync natively. They do not offer it cross-browser. This means that the stuff you have on Firefox will not “magically” sync with Google Chrome or any of the other browsers without importing.

Xmarks backup

I have actually relied on Xmarks as I work on multiple computers, across different browsers and operating systems. Its a good feeling knowing that your bookmarks are available on the cloud, as there have been quite a few occasions where it was crucial to access a certain link and Xmarks came to the rescue. The service is extremely convenient since it rebuilds your bookmarks on any of the four supported browsers exactly as you laid them out.

Revisiting the idea of an Xmarks Premium pay service, Xmarks set out a pledge page where users could sign up if they were willing to pay $10 a year for the sync service. No money upfront was needed only a pledge to show potential investors how serious the community was about keeping Xmarks alive. The pledge that was set for 100,00 ended on October 15th, 2010 and fell shy by 66,232 pledges which meant that only 33,768 people signed up out of the 2 million users worldwide.

For Xmarks, 2% of our two million users paying $10 a year would generate $400,000 of annual revenue. Today Xmarks costs over $2 million a year to run. For two developers in a garage this could be a nice business, but we had big aspirations (per point #1) and have already invested $9 million dollars to create the technology and grow the data corpus. If $2MM / year seems crazy high to you, remember that we staffed senior engineers to keep up with changes on multiple browsers and operating systems, plus a team building our search features.

Looking at the numbers, the pledges did not even meet the 2% example given by James Joaquin. This however is not bad news, if we take the glass half full approach. We see that in about a half month, more than 33K users passionately showed their support by willing to pay $10-$20 dollars a year for the service. This is not counting the users who did not know about the pledge page or did not pledge in time.

“Awww man… I didnt find this until it was 3 days too late. You should have sent out an email like when you were closing. I would TOTALLY pledge $10 a year. Done. I hope you guys find a way!!!!”

“Cross-browser bookmark sync is worth a lot more than $10/yr to me – although I don’t think I’d be comfortable paying more than $50/yr.
Echoing everyone else, how come I never heard about this pledge until after it was closed??”

“Don’t know where I was when the pledge page was “UP” but am thrilled to see the potential good news. I’d gladly pay $20 and was prepared to go double that to obtain a similar program.”

The future that once looked very bleek now looks brighter thanks to the community who has banded together and voiced their concerns to keep their favorite sync service alive. Now we wait and see but it looks like the effort of thousands might just pay off.

I certainly think its worthwhile and would pay $10-$20 dollars a year for the service.  Would you? Leave your comments.

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