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Why you should work at Xobni

by Ryan Gerard

Many people know of Xobni as the Outlook search plugin.  That’s not wrong – but it’s only a fraction of what we are today.  While we still love our Outlook customers, we are no longer strictly a desktop software company.  We’re a data-centric company, and our specialty is analyzing your data and transforming it into useful and relevant information.  Our first product provided fast search and people-oriented views around your Outlook email data – and that was a great start that helped us see the beginning of what was possible with data in email.

We’ve been building on top of email data for a while now, and we’re now focusing on developing technologies to deliver a set of products powered by a much more interesting and useful data set: your implicit social graph.

The Problem with Today’s Social Graph

Social graphs today are incredibly manual and tedious to create.  After you sign-up for a new social service, you are then asked to either invite or connect with friends one at a time, or in bulk by looking at some sort of established address book.  These address books present you an alphabetical, outdated, and incomplete list of your friends and family, from which you can either invite everyone en masse, or look through the entire alphabetical list and select people one at a time.

When you invite someone to connect with you, that person has to explicitly accept the request.  This person becomes a new node in a social graph that will inevitably become stale. I use the word “stale” because most people (including myself) do not take the time to prune their graphs (aka, remove people).  As Brad Feld mentioned, we are too promiscuous with who we accept into our graph.

What does this all mean?  Most of our social graphs are littered with people we don’t actually care about, and our feeds from these social networks start to lose value over time. While this graph still represents who I know, it’s no longer a real representation of who I care about.  In addition, as you move locations, change jobs, or meet new friends, both who you know and who you care about change over time.  Change is not something that today’s social graphs handle.  Without the work to manually remove people, today’s graphs can only get bigger.

The Implicit Social Graph – and some Xobni Magic

Your social graph already exists in real life: your spouse, kids, co-workers, family, and friends.  And we spend a lot of time and energy adding these important people to our social networks – manually. They have to explicitly ask to connect with you, and you have to manually accept that request.  This is a behavior that we’ve come to accept, but we at Xobni believe there are smarter ways to build these graphs in a more dynamic way.  Enter the implicit social graph.

The implicit social graph is one that is built using the data you are already creating day-in and day-out as part of your work and life: emails sent, calls made, texts sent, etc.  You are already exposing who your social graph is through your communication data.  By examining who you communicate with regularly, a social graph can be uncovered that requires no work from you to create. Indeed, you’re already creating it – we’re merely analyzing the data and exposing the graph underneath.

The beauty of the implicit social graph is that it discovers who is important to you and how important they are to you.

Stop and think about that for a moment, as it is vitally important.  The implicit social graph is one that has strength associated with each edge. Not only is this a graph of people that has been automatically curated, but it’s a graph that knows who you communicate with regularly, and how you communicate with them.  It’s a graph that automatically updates when you make new friends, change jobs, and stop talking to old friends.

This idea has wide applications.  To give you a taste of what I mean, the next time you click on one of those “Invite Friends” buttons right after you create an account, imagine this: what if instead of seeing an alphabetical list of people, you saw a list of people that made sense to you?  What if the list started with your spouse and close friends, followed by family members and co-workers?

How exactly does Xobni fit into this?

For the last two years, the Xobni engineering team has been building a system to create your implicit social graph from your communication data.  We’re at the forefront of developing this idea. We have a huge running start, and are best positioned to offer solutions using the implicit social graph.  We have built a few applications on top of it, including our Gmail product, our upcoming iPhone and Android products, and a huge array of hacks that experiment with the data.  That being said, these products and hacks are only the tip of the iceberg in terms of what is possible with Xobni’s platform.  We’ve been thinking and hacking on this concept for a while now, but we want more people to help us apply this big idea.

Bill Gates once stated that Xobni represents, “…the next generation of social networking”, PC Magazine said we are a “must have” and gave us the Editor’s Choice award, and TechCrunch says we “make the inbox smarter.”  In addition to these Xobni kudos, Fred Wilson wrote the implicit social graph represents, “…the next frontier in social networking”.  The next wave of social applications will be powered by our data and the opportunities are endless.  Come build with us.

UPDATE: We’re looking for various functions in engineering. A couple are listed on our jobs page, but we’re looking for many more.  Keep an eye out for this page to be updated.  If you’re ready to bring it and don’t see the right job match on our jobs page, feel free to shoot us an email – jobs [at] xobni [dot] com.

Xobni’s Top 10 for Relationship Building

Xobni is very fortunate to have a lot of avid fans out there, and Nancy Nardin is one of them.  Nancy Nardin is the founder and editor for, where you can find marketing and sales tools that help you sell more, faster, and easier.

She and her team pulled together the “Top 10 essentials for relationship building with Xobni” so we thought we should share it with you.

Check it out

How do you use Xobni to help you manage your relationships?  Tell us in the comments – we’d love to hear from you.

Introducing the Nimbb Gadget: Ridiculously Easy Video Messaging in Outlook

by Josh Jacobson

In May, competitors from around the world participated in the Xobni Gadget Hack Day.  There were a number of very impressive entries, but the grand prize went to Montreal-based Benjamin Bérubé who created the Nimbb video gadget.  At the award ceremony, judge/blogger Michael Arrington praised its simplicity, usefulness, and integration with Outlook as the winning qualities.  Now it’s available for free in the Xobni Gadget Store.

Here’s a quick video of how it works:

In a nutshell, the Nimbb gadget has two parts:

  • The Nimbb gadget appears in the Xobni for Outlook sidebar and  allows you to quickly record, review, and send video messages made with your webcam.  An account is not required, and it’s totally free.
  • If someone sends you a Nimbb video via email, the video will automatically appear within the message,  allowing you to watch the video right inside of Outlook.

Nimbb‘s Benjamin Bérubé adds: “Xobni’s OpenSocial container allows us to focus on our video subscription services and not have to worry about the hassle of working in Outlook.”

So, if you have Outlook and are interested in video messages, head on over to get Nimbb from the Xobni Gadget Store.  Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Also – Benjamin will be showing his gadget at the International Startup Festival’s “Hack Your Email!” event tomorrow, July 13th, in Montreal.  If you’re in the area, pop in to say hello – he’s a good guy 🙂

Teamwork! Xobni—now available for your whole team

A (wo/)man may do an immense deal of good, if (s)he does not care who gets the credit for it.

While we agree with the theory behind this old teamwork saying, we still think you can sneak a little credit for bringing the new Xobni for Teams to your colleagues today!

Since launching Xobni 3 years ago, we’ve heard from our customers time and time again that they’d love to give the benefits of Xobni to their entire team (oh, you’re too kind!). While we’ve had Xobni Business Solutions available for a while, many of our customers aren’t looking to purchase at an enterprise scale with advanced rollout tools—they just want to get their small group or company working more efficiently using Xobni.  (Did we mention that the average user says they save 45-60 minutes per week by using Xobni?)

Go to Xobni for Teams to get your whole team up and running with Xobni in minutes.

Top 6 Benefits to Xobni for Teams:

  1. Multiple people, one single bill
    Get all the benefits of Xobni and Xobni Pro for a group of people—bundled neatly into a single monthly or annual bill.
  2. Manage with Ease
    Online management for everything: members, licenses, and payment. Never lose track of licenses that you’ve purchased over time. We keep the rollout super-simple: each team member handles installing Xobni on their computer or smartphone.
  3. Flexibility
    New employees? Different employees? You can edit members and shift around licenses at any time.
  4. Volume discounts
    Just $5/person for a monthly subscription or $45/person for the annual subscription.
  5. Premium customer support
    If you have questions, we’re here for you.
  6. Happy, productive team members
    Xobni users are up to 300% more productive according to Exigent, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner.

How easy is it? All it takes is 4 steps:

  1. Log in.
  2. Add people on your team.
  3. Assign them a Xobni product.
  4. Checkout and send invitations to your team members so they can enjoy Xobni. Done!

Oh, and step 5 is getting kudos (ah hem “credit) from co-workers for bringing Xobni goodness their way.  🙂

Introducing the EchoSign Gadget: Sign documents without ever leaving Outlook.

by Josh Jacobson

While the technology we use to get work done has advanced impressively over the decades, the process of signing documents seems to have become worse since the dark ages.  Why, in this day and age, do we still have to go through Rube Goldberg-like contortions of printing, pens, faxes, couriers, scanners, call-confirmations and email-confirmations to complete simple document signing, especially when most documents start as digital files anyway?  Well, thanks to EchoSign, we can be done with all that.

EchoSign has already built an impressively easy web-based way to send and e-sign documents that has been catching on like wildfire. Over 3 million business people already enjoy its benefits.

Now, EchoSign has made it even easier to sign documents.  The EchoSign Gadget, available for FREE through the Xobni Gadget Store, saves you a round trip to the web browser, and lets you get on with your day.  Here’s how it works:

  1. You receive a “Please E-Sign” email sent via EchoSign,
  2. The EchoSign Gadget allows you to review the entire document and sign it right inside of Outlook.
  3. Now your job is done!  Just delete or file the email as desired.

If you’re asked to sign documents often, this gadget is definitely for you.

It’s just one more way that companies have used the Xobni Gadget Platform to shave minutes or hours off of tasks that their users do every single work day.

Read more about how it works at or install the EchoSign Gadget today.

Introducing Min State for Xobni for Gmail

We’re proud to introduce the latest version of Xobni for Gmail Beta (Production-48) Thanks to each of you who wrote in and posted in the forums. User feedback is always important, and it’s especially critical while a product is still in beta. We appreciate having such an active and engaged set of testers. To show thanks, we’re giving you some of your top-requested features!

Here’s what’s new:

1. Min State
With this new update comes our top-requested feature: the ability to expand and collapse the Xobni sidebar at will. This enables you to have Xobni neatly tucked away to the right-hand side of your workspace for when you want to focus. When you minimize the sidebar, you’ll see summarized versions of contact profiles, inbox view, and even search results—all fitted discreetly into a slim 50 pixel-wide profile.

To expand or collapse the Xobni for Gmail sidebar, just click on the left margin of the sidebar.

2. New color scheme to match Gmail’s default “Bold” theme
Coming soon: pick your own color theme to match your unique Gmail setup.

3. Faster Contact Creation
When composing an email, Xobni Autosuggest now instantly recognizes contacts that you’ve just emailed for the first time. You may not have noticed this, but not only do we show you info on the contacts in your inbox, we also create Xobni Contacts for them. This means that you can search and find that contact even if you’ve deleted messages from them.

4. Faster Email Composing
What’s different about Xobni Autosuggest? When you compose a message, we suggest your Xobni Contacts. This comprehensive list includes everyone you’ve ever emailed with—whether it’s multiple Gmail accounts, Outlook, or BlackBerry. That means you have access to all of your contacts, ordered by who’s most relevant to you in your current account. To make things easier for you, Xobni Autosuggest now allows tabbing to navigate to the next text field.

5. Social Network Updates

  • Social updates tab is now selected by default
  • New “Add” button next to LinkedIn profile info
  • Profile picker for Facebook and Twitter now includes links to view profile. You can even paste in a user ID for Facebook.

6. Xobni Profiles

  • If your’e the sender of an email you are reading, Xobni will show the receiver in the sidebar—we assume you know your own info 😉
  • We’ll preserve your tab status while you navigate through contacts. If you like having Recent Emails open, it will stay open. When you go back, you’ll see the previous open tabs.
  • Consistent message count for Recent Emails and Relationship History

7. Standalone Version now easier to access
Want Xobni in a separate browser tab? Search your Xobni Contacts and information while you’re not in Gmail. Just go to

8. Additional Improvements

  • Show Gmail’s contextual actions, such as “map this”
  • Fixed bug for email address ranking in the business card
  • Fixed handling wide HTML emails when Composing
  • Fixed display of email addresses with hyphens
  • Fixed injection failing in Firefox
  • Fixed: #email accounts in address book summary
  • Fixed: Sidebar handling of Gmail resizes
  • Removed Gears logging
  • Improvements to indexing progress: spinner, ghost contact count, progresss bar and % completion
  • We are now an authorized FFox extension

How do I get the new Xobni for Gmail?

  • For those of you with Xobni for Gmail installed, simply reload the page. Easy!
  • For those of you who don’t have Xobni for Gmail yet, sign up here.
  • For those of you still waiting on the list to get in, know that we are adding thousands of people each week. Tip: tweet a compelling plea to @xobni – we may be vulnerable to persuasion 😉
As always, feedback is welcome. Visit the forums and drop us a line—we’d love to hear from you.
—Team Xobni

Xobni for Gmail: Relationships Matter

At left, Xobni for Gmail. At right, the people widget from Gmail

Yesterday Gmail released a new feature that occupies the same real estate as Xobni for Gmail.  This caused some of Gmail’s features to overlap the Xobni sidebar. Our engineers sprang into action and fixed the issue within a few hours. The Xobni sidebar now sits neatly in position and gets you back to goodness. All you need to do is refresh your Gmail page and your Xobni sidebar should be good as new!

This isn’t the first time and it won’t be the last time a major email client tries to add a little flava to the inbox or another product claims to be the “Xobni for xyz.” Since Xobni for Outlook was introduced in May of 2008, we’ve been saying that it’s the people in the inbox that really matter, not just the messages. It’s nice to see that companies like Google now agree.

Many people have asked us about the differences between what Gmail released and Xobni’s product for Gmail. Here are some of the benefits of using Xobni:

  • Cross-platform freedom: Xobni now has products in Outlook, BlackBerry and Gmail (iPhone and Android coming soon), and we connect all these accounts with Xobni Pro. So if you’re in Gmail, you can access all your Outlook contacts and their information, and vice versa.
  • Comprehensive contact creation: Our automatic address book creates Xobni contacts for everyone you’re ever interacted with in email—across any of your Gmail/Google Apps, Outlook, and BlackBerry platforms. Our feeling is that people don’t manage address books well, in general.  So we’re doing the work for you – and in a way that includes EVERY person, not just the ones you manually add to your address book.
  • Lightning-fast contact search, ranked by who you interact with the most from that account.
  • Rich social profile information from LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter gives you a more complete picture of your contacts, including photos, job title, company, updates and tweets. As much as we are huge Gmail fans, not all of us manually add pictures to our Gmail contacts, and not all of our contacts use Gmail.
  • Smart Visual Autosuggest: All of your Xobni contacts, right at your fingertips, ranked by who’s most important to you in the context of that mailbox.
  • Social Autosuggest: Emailing Bob? Immediately add other people you frequently email with Bob right in autosuggest.
  • Relationship History for the long-range view of how you know a contact

Xobni's Relationship History

In short, we are big believers in an open product that crosses platforms, external data and devices—because our real-life relationships don’t live within those boundaries.

If you’re not already using Xobni for Gmail Beta, sign up today. If you live in Outlook or BlackBerry, check out Xobni (free)and Xobni Pro—demonstrated to make you up to 300% more productive in how you manage contacts and email. Looking forward to connecting your smartphone? Get on the free BlackBerry app or sign up for the Android and iPhone alpha.

As always, feedback is welcome: visit our forums or email

George Says… Let Xobni do your heavy (social) lifting for you

Our new friend George Janczuk first “fell in love with Xobni” when he was a sales consultant for Object Consulting, a software development company in Australia that focuses on large-scale business applications.  He quickly became a power user and spread the Xobni love throughout the organization.

He’s now in a technical management role at Class Super, a company that produces SaaS Administration Systems for Retirement Funds.  His primary means of communication with hundreds of companies and customers is email.  He says “Xobni is a key means by which I tame the Email beast.”  Well said, George!

We noticed the below post in our forum offering up a tip from George and thought we’d share with a broader audience.  Thanks, George! 

George’s (irregular series of) XOBNI TIPS!

by George Janczuk

OK – I *LOVE* Xobni; and over the few years that I have been using it I have picked up a number of TIPS which I would love to share! So… this is the first in a (an irregular) series of “George’s Xobni Tips!”

This one is simple. Do you have a work colleague that you are trying to connect with on your social networks? You maybe have them connected on LinkedIn but not Facebook, and searching facebook seems to be an entirely ineffective exercise…

Well… you can let Xobni do your heavy lifting for you!

These handy steps will definitely lift your success rate:

  1. If that person has multiple contacts in Xobni, consolidate them into one with multiple email addresses,
  2. If you have that user on once social network and not another (e.g. most commonly for me I would have them as a link on LinkedIN but not on Facebook) – then check the social network for which you do have a like to see what email addresses they have listed there. They will often be different to those you have on email correspondence; add these to the consolidated contact as well.
  3. Bring up the contact’s Xobni profile and press the tab for the social network for which you don’t have their profile (e.g. facebook).
  4. Voila – in many cases Xobni will hone in of exactly the right contact – click on the little person silhouette button to open their profile.

The magic on this technique is that is searches directly by email address. I haven’t yet found a way to manually do an email search via the Facebook UI.

Xobni Gadget Hack Day: Success!

Superstar judges and the crowd take in the hacks.

On Monday, we hosted our first Xobni Gadgets Hack.  The hackers were quick, the pizza was awesome (Little Star FTW) and the judges were generous with prizes.  Well, Xobni was generous with prizes, but the judges were generous with their time!

The challenge was for hackers to build gadgets using Xobni’s new OpenSocial-powered platform.  We held this hack event 1 week after the launch of the Xobni Gadget Store (see TechCrunch story here), to allow developers to familiarize themselves with the new platform, which now brings services like WebEx, Evernote, Yammer and Salesforce into Outlook.

In total, we had over 100 attendees, 35 people hacking, 15 hacks submitted for the contest (2 virtually via WebEx), 150 beers consumed and 20 pizzas devoured – all in just 3 hours.  Michael Arrington (TechCrunch), Joseph Smarr (Google), David Lee (SV Angels) and Mark Weitzel (OpenSocial) were the esteemed judges determining the winners and handing out the dough.

Prizes went to Best Overall ($500 or Xoom tablet), Most Useful ($250), Most Creative ($250), Best Crammer ($250 – def: /kram’ mer/ noun – one who crammed a gadget in from start to finish in under 3 hours), and Developer’s Choice (chosen by the crowds via Twitter). also kicked in another $250 to the best gadget using their APIs.

And the winners are: (drumroll please…)

Cooper Marcus of Wishery with his prize.

Thanks to everyone who came out and made it happen!  It was so exciting to see so many smart and creative developers leveraging this platform to integrate their products and services into consumers email workflow, and this is just the beginning.  We’ll work with these developers to see which gadgets might be offered through the Xobni Gadget Store in the future.  We hope to see the Xobni Gadget Store fill up with even more gadgets that improve productivity, add new functionality or just inspire a smile. If you are thinking about a hack or just have a question about the platform, you can always post in the Developer Forum.

To see all photos, go to our Flickr set.

*Photos by Mitch Aidelbaum –

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About Xobni

Xobni’s contact management products offer lightning fast email search and organization of your inbox, as well as an innovative and comprehensive address book for the mobile device.


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