Email startup Xobni leaves beta, raises $3.2M

Updated

Xobni is finally launching the “official” version of its plug-in that improves organization in Microsoft’s email program Outlook — in other words, it’s finally taking off the beta testing label it’s used for the past 10 months. It’s also announcing a $3.2 million addition to its second round of funding from the BlackBerry Partners Fund.

The San Francisco company adds an inbox sidebar to Outlook that shows profiles of people you’re corresponding with. By making related content (phone numbers, past messages, files exchanged, and more) immediately accessible, the plug-in helps you avoid fruitless or time-consuming searches through giant piles of email. So what’s the difference between the official version of Xobni and the beta version? Co-founder Matt Brezina says it’s all about improved performance. That’s a good thing, too, because there have been plenty of complaints — including some from VentureBeat editor Matt Marshall — about Xobni’s (lack of) speed.

“We’re not saying that we’re not going to look on this anymore, but on performance we feel very confident about this,” Brezina says. “We’re taking the beta label off, we’re ready for game day.”

Even in beta mode, Xobni has been downloaded 2 million times, he says. The company plans to roll out premium versions (in other words, versions with enhanced search and relationship management, that you actually have to pay for) later this year. We’ll also see premium extensions for its integration with services like Yahoo Mail and Hoover’s.

Xobni has now raised more than $14 million in venture backing. As for the financing from the BlackBerry Fund, Brezina says Xobni has no BlackBerry-related announcements, but it seems pretty clear that Xobni must have plans for a mobile app — why else would the BlackBerry Fund back the company?

“As much as people complain about Outlook, mobile email is even more primitive than that,” he says.

Update: The BlackBerry Fund’s Rick Segal has a blog post talking more about the investment:

So why the BlackBerry Fund: Simple. That smart phone you love, carry everywhere and would give up sex before you give up it up? That’s your next computer if it isn’t already and that’s where power products will have tons of demand. I’m on the go 90% of my working day.  I want the power of what’s on my desktop with me. I want the productivity hit on my device.  Xobni has a very compelling value proposition and we look forward to its extension into new platforms and use cases.