Yahoo Snaps Up Social E-Mail Firm Xoopit

Yahoo has confirmed the acquisition of Xoopit, a San Francisco-based startup that runs a platform to help users organize and share information such as photos in their e-mail inboxes.

The companies did not disclose the terms of the sale, but it is rumored at about $20 million.

“If your e-mail inbox is anything like mine, it’s turned into a ‘digital shoebox’ over the years,” Brian Lamkin, Yahoo’s (NASDAQ: YHOO) senior vice president of applications said in a blog post.

Xoopit’s promise is to bring order to the chaos of the myriad photos strewn around different corners of a person’s e-mail account, organizing and indexing all the photos a user has ever sent or received.

The acquisition, Yahoo’s first after a long dry spell, continues the company’s effort to bring more social features to its products as it strives to become “the center of people’s online lives.”

Earlier this week, Yahoo reported its second-quarter earnings, showcasing a balance sheet that continues to reflect the overall weakness in the advertising economy, though some analysts took away hopeful signs that CEO Carol Bartz is beginning to execute on the company’s turnaround strategy.

On the same day as its earnings report, Yahoo took the wraps off its redesigned home page, well earlier than analysts had been expecting. That redesign featured more than 60 customizable widgets enabling users to access and share content with other Web sites without leaving, a strategy to turn Yahoo into a social hub that continues with the acquisition of Xoopit.

In addition to aggregating and organizing photos in an e-mail account, Xoopit’s technology enables users to share images with friends in a private album or through sites like Facebook.

Yahoo and Xoopit aren’t strangers. The startup launched the My Photos applications for Yahoo Mail in December when the Web pioneer opened its e-mail client to third-party developers. Yahoo said that Xoopit’s photo app is now the most popular third-party app in Yahoo Mail.

“While social networks and community sites are great for sharing photos with everyone you know, we realize it’s not for everyone or every occasion,” Lamkin said. “For many, e-mail is still best for sharing photos among a more select group of friends or family. And now we’re making it all that much easier for you.”

With Xoopit’s photo-sharing app, users will be able to invite friends to view their pictures in a private album within the e-mail client, eliminating the size limits that restrict sharing images as e-mail attachments.

Before it connected with Yahoo Mail, Xoopit had developed a plug-in for Google’s (NASDAQ: GOOG) Gmail service. Xoopit said that its app for Gmail will continue to work, “for the time being,” but it is no longer signing up new Gmail users.

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