We were one of the first add-ons to turn on the Mozilla “contributions” feature, allowing users to make a suggested $7 donation when they download Xmarks. Participation was abysmal… less that 0.001% of users contributed. (Interestingly, most of the contributions came from Europe, not from the US.)
For Xmarks, 2% of our two million users paying $10 a year would generate $400,000 of annual revenue. Today Xmarks costs over $2 million a year to run. For two developers in a garage this could be a nice business, but we had big aspirations (per point #1) and have already invested $9 million dollars to create the technology and grow the data corpus. If $2MM / year seems crazy high to you, remember that we staffed senior engineers to keep up with changes on multiple browsers and operating systems, plus a team building our search features.
UPDATE: Many comments point out that Xmarks is the only game in town for cross-browser sync; that’s something that Firefox or Chrome can’t hold a candle to. Absolutely true! Point #3 is still relevant to our business prospects, as over 75% of our current users are Firefox-only.
The overwhelming positive user support from all of you, combined with strong interest by companies looking to take over Xmarks, means that the service might just find a ninth life. Please stay tuned.
If there were to be 1 company you guys should vet yourselves out to is Dropbox. Personally I would pay 20 a month for expanded storage and a secure place to hold my bookmarks, passwords and browsing history for syncing on the go.
I’ve set my pledge on pledgebank as well. Best of luck because I would hate to lose this service. It’s made my working process seamless and would find it a very deep loss if you were to go under.