Xobni’s Journey from YC to Yahoo!

Author: Rob Hayes - Partner

I was relatively new to the venture business in 2006 when I first met Matt Brezina and Adam Smith. They entered YC (which itself was only a year old at the time) with the idea to make sense of the inbox. They called their company, Xobni (that’s “inbox” spelled backward, by the way).

Matt and Adam built a small team and an amazing product. They launched at the first TechCrunch conference to rave reviews.

Xobni TechCrunch 40 Presentation 

(Adam and Matt presenting at TechCrunch 40)

The technology they built was so impressive that Bill Gates demoed it on stage at the Microsoft developer’s conference. Xobni had done something that even Outlook engineers at Microsoft couldn’t do – and they did it with a team that was a fraction of the size of Microsoft’s.

In addition to building a great product, Matt and Adam built a great team. They were very picky and hired only the best. Eventually they were able to entice Jeff Bonforte to come in as CEO.


Xobni in the NY Times (May 5, 2008)

(Matt, Adam and Jeff featured in a New York Times Article from 2008)

Jeff is one of those rare CEOs that you only get to work with a few times in your career, if you’re lucky. He doesn’t fold under pressure, he is relentlessly positive and always figures out how to make things work given whatever cards he is dealt. Like any company, Xobni has had its high and low moments over the past 7 years, and Jeff navigated those situations very adeptly, holding his team together and continuing to build high quality and innovative products.

Clearly the quality of the team and products are something that Yahoo has recognized and is why they are announcing today that they’ve acquired Xobni. I am thrilled for this team because they have worked so incredibly hard to get here for so many years. Yahoo now has an amazing set of products and people that can really change the trajectory of Yahoo’s email and contacts strategy. I am proud to have had Xobni as part of the First Round Community. I’m looking forward to the next chapter and can’t wait to see what they will be able to do with the full resources of Yahoo behind them.






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