Yahoo Acquires Gmail Photo Management Add-on Xoopit

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The team behind the Xoopit social photo management service, first developed as an add-on for Google's Gmail, are joining rival Web mail operator Yahoo, they announced late Wednesday.

Xoopit promises to help users mine the pictures and video files stored in their Gmail account and open them up to comments from their friends on social networking sites. In addition to e-mail attachments, the service also scours photos and videos shared through sites such as Shutterfly, Google's Youtube and Picasa Web Albums, or Yahoo's Flickr.

The startup first offered an invitation-only beta version of its service in March last year, and sent out a further wave of invitations three months later. It wasn't until December that it developed a version of the service for Yahoo Mail, after that company opened up its Web mail platform to external applications. Called "My Photos", it has become the third most popular application for Yahoo Mail, according to Yahoo.

Yahoo signed the agreement to acquire Xoopit on Wednesday, according to a posting on the Yahoo corporate blog.

Neither company disclosed financial details of the deal. Xoopit began life with US$1.5 million in funding from angel investors, according to published reports, adding a further $5 million from venture capital funds Accel Partners and Foundation Capital in June 2008.

While the Xoopit staff will be joining Yahoo, the company isn't turning the service it developed for Gmail off just yet.

"That service will remain active for the time being," company founders Bijan Marashi and Jonathan Katzman wrote in a Xoopit blog post announcing the acquisition.

However, Xoopit will no longer sign up new users to the service, it said.

Yahoo will continue to provide support for a Firefox add-on developed by Xoopit for Gmail users, according to its blog posting.

That Firefox add-on has been downloaded over 400,000 times from the Mozilla Web site.

Google has also been developing limited photo management features for Gmail: its Gmail Labs pages feature additional functions that users can turn on to preview photos in Flickr or Picasa Web albums when they receive an e-mail containing a link to such an album.

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