Xobni, the Outlook e-mail helper in 2007, is finally leaving its official beta phase. It's getting some needed updates in the 1.0 release, although no major new features. Xobni is also announcing that it's closed its B round of funding.
The software updates for Xobni are all in the performance and compatibility areas. The product is now faster, co-founder Matt Brezina told me. In other words, it should work acceptably quickly for users with large e-mail installations, such as Xobni investor Josh Kopelman. Passing "The Kopelman Experiment," Brezina says, was a key milestone during development.
The product now has caching and other performance tweaks so it doesn't drag Outlook performance down during message switching, and it has a feature that allows it to be installed but not automatically run at Outlook start-up; users can turn on Xobni when they want it, or turn it off to free up resources.
It's also supposed to be more compatible with key products that interact with Outlook, such as Microsoft's Dynamic CRM and Outlook Business Contact Manager, and the enterprise versions of McAfee virus scanner, version 8.5 and up (I'm sad to report it doesn't work with version 8.0, which is what I have installed on my laptop).
"We truly needed this beta period," Brezina said as he ran down the tweaks the team made with the product. Installed software, he reminded me, is much harder to develop than Web apps, since the compatibility testing is so much more complex.
Cisco is in
The company has also closed a $10.5 million second round of venture funding, led by Cisco ($5 million) ( ), with participation of the Blackberry Partner Fund ($3.2 million) and all the previous investors.
Cisco's participation in the Xobni project is telling, and hopefully will help push Xobni beyond the world of just Microsoft e-mail and toward creating products for other platforms. Brezina told me the company's vision is to diversify its products but keep a focus on helping people index personal (as oppose to the world's) information.
Xobni "hasn't made a penny yet," Brezina said, but it will be announcing a premium product this summer, as well as paid online services. Brezina would not elaborate on these plans.