Comcast to Tack Plaxo to TV

Family photos may soon be flitting from the Web onto Comcastic TV screens.

Comcast, with plans to acquire social-networking site Plaxo, is looking to eventually bring Web-style content-sharing features to its digital-cable TV and phone customers.

Financial terms of the deal weren't disclosed. Privately held Plaxo, based in Mountain View, Calif., started life in 2001 as a Web-enabled address book. Since then, it has broadened its features to allow Internet users to share photos, blog posts and other information, a la Facebook. Plaxo claims to have registered 50 million accounts.

“Plaxo has created the technology and infrastructure that will enable us to add social networking and community features across devices — on television, online and on the phone,” Comcast vice president of corporate communications Jennifer Khoury said.

The two companies have already worked together for about a year. Plaxo is providing the universal address book for Comcast's SmartZone, which will give subscribers a “dashboard” interface into the operator's communications services. SmartZone, announced in May 2007, is scheduled to launch this year. Plaxo also hosts address book accounts for Comcast's Webmail users.

In a blog post on Plaxo's site last week, CEO Ben Golub, chief architect Cameron Ring and vice president of products Todd Masonis outlined the rationale for the deal.

“Together, we intend to deliver on a vision of making 'social media' a natural part of the lives of regular people, not just early adopters,” the Plaxo execs wrote.

For example, someone could post family photos online at Plaxo's site, and have them viewable by family members, “whether they are online, at work, on their mobile device, or in their living room watching TV. And you should be able to discover new shows to watch, based on what your friends and coworkers have recommended.”

Investors in Plaxo, which has 50 employees, include Cisco Systems and venture capital firms Sequoia Capital and Globespan Capital Partners.

Comcast and Plaxo (pronounced “PLAQUE-so”) said the deal is expected to close “in the near future” subject to customary closing requirements.

Plaxo will remain based in Silicon Valley, operating as a division of Comcast Interactive Media.