Plaxo, Comcast’s Early Social Network, Logs Off

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Plaxo, a digital address-book organizer that presaged social networking in the early 2000s, has been shut down by Comcast.

In a message on its home page, Plaxo bid a straightforward farewell, saying no new accounts can be created and service will wind down on Dec. 31. Consumer data will be purged beginning on Jan. 1, 2018. “Thank you for subscribing to Plaxo,” it read. “We appreciate the support you have given us over the years and we wish you all the best.”

Comcast acquired Plaxo in 2008, reportedly for $150 million to $170 million. At that point, it had 50 million accounts. An internal memo from Plaxo’s CEO at the time gushed, “Together, we intend to deliver on a vision of making ‘social media’ a natural part of the lives of regular people, not just early-adopters.”

Even though it was early enough that the phrase “social media” was still in quotes, Plaxo was quickly eclipsed by MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social platforms. (One of Plaxo’s founders, Sean Parker, would go on to participate in the birth of Facebook.)

One factor was the fact that Plaxo was a premium service, compared with rivals, which did not charge users and made money on advertising. Like a lot of companies, Plaxo also struggled to adapt to the mobile and smartphone era.

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