This would explain the fact that when I asked Tim Koogle at PC Forum what Plaxo’s business model was he had a long pause in which “to get bought” would have fit nicely.
Clearly Plaxo is a company that may never have a business model beyond being a really defensible feature of another person’s service. We’ve all witnessed this model, some acquisitions that come to mind at AOL buying ICQ, Microsoft buying Hotmail, and Yahoo buying eGroups. None of these would have survived as stand alone business (how many free email, instant messenger or web-based groupware products do you know? How well are they doing?).
Adding to the potential validity of this rumor is the fact that AOL desperately needs features to cut their churn and Plaxo would be a great one, and the fact that Plaxo has been making the point that an acquisition would require the new owner to be very nice to the existing customer baseare they preparing us all for this eventuality.
If Plaxo is sold to an AOL it will be the start, or at least continuation, of a new round of acquisitions by the portals who took a couple of years off from buying sites.