This morning, on the Xmarks company blog, CEO James Joaquin said that the company is "revisiting the idea of Xmarks as a premium service"--something it has never offered, and one of the factors that led to the company failing to turn a profit.
To gauge interest in that idea, Joaquin and the other Xmarks founders have set up a page on Pledgebank where they're hopping to get 100,000 people to pledge to paying $10-$20 a year for a paid, premium service. "This is not a scientific experiment to predict what percent of our base will pay, but it's a data point that will definitely help," Joaquin wrote. At the time of this post, there are 2,122 users signed up, with another 97,878 slots left to be filled.
While there was never a paid version of the service, Xmarks was one of the initial add-on makers involved in the contributions program Mozilla launched in July of last year. Even so, it did not yield the results the company was expecting. "Participation was abysmal," Joaquin said. According to the company, 0.001 percent of Xmarks users actually ended up paying the $7 donation fee--echoing similar numbers to those shared with CNET by Mozilla developers shortly after the program was launched.
In order to keep the service running, Joaquin says the company needs $2 million a year. This amount, he said, goes toward hosting and keeping a full-time staff of engineers on-board for maintaining the software as browser makers roll out updates.
Besides contributions, Joaquin mentioned that Xmarks has been contacted by several companies that wanted to acquire the service and keep offering it. "No guarantees, but we've been pleasantly surprised by the volume of interest," he said.