Is Plaxo Still a Viable Personal Assistant?

When Napster co-founder Sean Parker founded Plaxo, the landscape was wide open, but these days a few things have changed. For one thing, the competition to become your small business contact organizer is fierce. Functionality is included in your smartphone and other devices free of charge. Ultra-sophisticated contact organizer tools like Salesforce give users full control of their contacts. So what does Plaxo offer that these other services don’t?

One of the shining features of Plaxo is its ability to constantly stay updated. All information is stored on Plaxo’s Cloud, allowing you and your co-workers to access contact information from anywhere. If you or a colleague make a change, it automatically updates in everyone else’s address books, as well.

To further enhance Plaxo’s capabilities, the site syncs with Outlook and Outlook Express, as well as your Blackberry, iOS, and Mac OS X address books. Now owned by Comcast, the company uses Plaxo’s technology to power its SmartZone contact database.

Plaxo’s recent move toward social media has made it more relevant than ever. Plaxo now interacts with Facebook to gather information on your contacts’ birthdays, making sure you never forget again. Photos can also be added to your address book, letting you easily put a face with the name. This social media connectivity also allows you to be alerted if your contacts’ information changes.

Another benefit to Plaxo is its ability to keep old versions of your address book, allowing you to revert if you ever need to. This backup also ensures if something should ever happen to your device, you’ll be able to restore your contacts from the Cloud. This can be especially helpful when it’s time to switch to a new cell phone.

There are quite a few companies out there that do what Plaxo does, but one thing that sets Plaxo apart is its partnerships. Its agreement with Avery Dennison, for instance, allows users to print mailing labels directly from contact lists. The service also integrates with AOL, providing integration with the site’s instant messaging software.

In a field where many older services eventually shut down, it’s notable that Plaxo has endured. In fact, Plaxo VP of operations Ethan Erchinger was recently named a “Rising Star” finalist by the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal.

“When faced with the challenge of selecting the best IT system for Plaxo, Erchinger would not accept the status quo that high availability and high performance cannot be achieved in parallel,” Schooner Information Technology wrote. Erching recently chose SchoonerSQL to provide the back-end for Plaxo.

Plaxo is an example of how businesses must continue to evolve in order to stay alive in the competitive technology marketplace. By implementing social media and Cloud-based technology into its platform, Plaxo is able to continue to market itself as a viable competitor to the many other contact list applications available today.


About Stephanie Faris

Stephanie is a freelance writer and young adult/middle grade novelist, who worked in information systems for more than a decade. Her first book, 30 Days of No Gossip, will be released by Simon and Schuster in spring 2014. She lives in Nashville with her husband.