Xmarks is a (currently) free bookmark syncing service that I have been using for years, and is now on the verge of shutting down for good. But there may be light at the end of the tunnel. Xmarks started out as Foxmarks, a Firefox add-in which allowed me to sync my bookmarks between my different computers, and even access my bookmarks online if I was using someone else’s computer. Over time Foxmarks re-branded to Xmarks when they started building add-ins for other browsers (Internet Explorer, Chrome, and Safari). This is what won my allegiance to Xmarks. AFAIK, there are no alternatives that provide cross-browser bookmark syncing.

Several days ago, Xmarks announced that they would be shutting down their service on January 10, 2011. Xmarks started out with the idea that they could build a bookmark syncing service and fund it with the crowd-sourced bookmark data that it collected.  That data could be used to increase search engine accuracy, or other profitable ventures. Unfortunately over the last several years, Xmarks has been unable to workout a business model that would allow it to stay in business. The Xmarks blog explains their intended business model and why it failed.

Immediately following the announcement that Xmarks would be shutting down, the small but loyal group of Xmarks users vocalized their support for Xmarks, and begged that Xmarks find a way to continue providing the service. The most common suggestion among users was to turn Xmarks into a paid premium service. Unfortunately according to Xmarks CEO James Joaquin, $9M has already been invested into the development of Xmarks, and operational costs currently top $2M annually. Typically when converting from a free service to a premium service, only 1% – 3% of users convert. Even with the 2 million users that currently use Xmarks, if 3% convert to a paid account, and paid a suggested $10/year subscription, that only creates $600,000 in revenue, far short of the current $2M operational budget, and $9M that venture capitalists want to recoup.

Regardless of the long shot, Xmarks has set up a pledgebank account (www.pledgebank.com/XmarksPremium) where users can pledge $10 to keep Xmarks alive. There is no guarantee that this will work, however since the announcement to shutdown, there have been several offers to purchase Xmarks.

Check out the Xmarks blog for updates on the quest to save Xmarks.


If Xmarks fails to be rescued, there are alternatives for bookmark syncing (nope, no cross-browser alternatives). These alternatives are part of the reason why Xmarks decided to shutdown.

Firefox Sync (Mozilla Firefox)

  • Free
  • Add-in for FF3, built into FF4

Chrome Sync (Google Chrome)

  • Free

Windows Live Essentials (Microsoft Internet Explorer)

  • Free

MobileMe (Apple Safari)

  • $99/year