As a kind of active user of Plaxo (http://www.plaxo.com/), I wanted to find out if we should regard is as a disruptive technology.
I like the simplicity of it, it’s just about keeping up to date you contacts database, nothing more, nothing less. It links in Outlook (Express) and invites your contacts via e-mail to update their details. It also allows you to have access to your contacts over the Internet in a web browser and if you really want, you can also have your Outlook calendar, tasks, and notes on-line.
Pretty recent article in BusinessWeek.
When I analyzed what people find of it, I found out that discussion is around privacy, security and spam.
Security: Plaxo publishes their security measures. There were a few (I counted two) security issues, which is almost unavoidable. They were solved in a few hours, no harm done.
Spam:The update request via e-mail can be annoying for non members and is by some regarded as spam. To Opt-out from Update Requests non members can stop receiving Update Requests from a single Plaxo member, or all Plaxo members (https://www.plaxo.com/opt-out). This link will be included in all Update Request. As in every society the best way to solve this is to teach the Plaxo users manners. According to Ben Golub, Plaxo will be trying that.
After some initial reservations, David course now recommends the free Plaxo contact information service. Looking at his picture, I don’t know if I should thrust him ;-).
financially it sounds pretty stable, it is backed by: Michael Moritz of Sequoia Capital and Google fame, along with individual investments from the likes of early Tim Koogle (Yahoo). Last year Cisco joined.
Revenue is generated by selling premium services: VIP support, Address book cleaner, Mobile / Wap access. Partnering is an other stream of revenues: birthday reminders with card send option and links to presents sites (and in every mail a link to stop receiving reminders for this person). Actually all changes in a plaxo member data could be a reason for strengthening the relation (moves, job changes). There is also a partnering with Yahoo in a combined Plaxo Outlook Yahoo search field. Other partners use Plaxo’s open API so that they can integrate the self-updating address book, calendar, tasks, and notes into their own applications. Example: Modomail an e-mail service provider which synchronizes contact information between the Webmail address book and the Plaxo Network.
GoodContacts http://www.goodcontacts.com/ (also has networking options)AddresSender; http://www.addressender.com/
I did not test any of them, but they don’t have Plaxo’s clean looks.
Conclusion: Yes, Plaxo is a disruptive technology and the current dominant solution.