updated 01:05 am EDT, Tue September 28, 2010
Like many others, could not find a viable model
XMarks co-founder and CTO Todd Agulnick has posted an open letter on the company's blog informing users of his bookmark-syncing and recommendation engine XMarks that the service will shut down in 90 days. In his post, he explains that the lack of a profitable, growth-driven business model and inability to sell to another company led to the decision to close down the service.
The service began life as a prototype browser- and platform-agnostic bookmark sync developed for Mitch Kapor of Firefox, which eventually grew into a startup called Foxmarks that offered free bookmark syncing and utilized the anonymized data of over 100 million bookmarks to aggregate recommendations on the best sites for certain kinds of information, a "Wikipedia of Websites," as Agulnick described it.
Over time, however, the company struggled to find a way to leverage the aggregated data into something advertisers would support, wanting to keep the main offering -- bookmark syncing across multiple computers and browsers -- free. Agulnick mentions that the company was "remarkably close" to striking a deal with a buyer, who ultimately got "cold feet" and pulled out. Ultimately, similar bookmark-syncing services from Firefox and Chrome undermined the value of XMarks' "corpus," leaving over a million XMarks users looking for alternatives (some of which the company is recommending on their Shutdown FAQ page).