Professional social network LinkedIn (NASDAQ:LNKD) has acquired startup Rapportive, which makes a browser plug-in that injects contact information from social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and into Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Gmail application.
Rapportive displays Twitter tweets and other status updates in a toolbar alongside Gmail. The app, which LinkedIn will maintain, is similar to software offered by Xobni, Google's People Widget for Gmail and other lightweight apps that are attempting to make users' in-boxes more social.
These companies were founded on the premise that Microsoft's Outlook, Gmail and Yahoo Mail don't provide enough intelligence about users' personal and professional contacts to be truly useful in boosting social engagement.
Financial terms of LinkedIn's deal for Rapportive were not disclosed. AllthingsDigital, which broke the news, said the deals costs in the low teens of millions of dollars.
It isn't yet clear how LinkedIn will leverage Rapportive's technology and talent. Rapportive CEO Rahul Vohra wrote in a bubbly blog post that he hitched his company's wagon to LinkedIn because both care about their users first and foremost.
LinkedIn supplied this complimentary comment after Rapportive CEO announced the deal on his company's blog:
"We are always on the lookout for companies with the talent, technology or services that have the potential to accelerate our product road map. Rapportive does a great job at delivering relevant information in a platform that is universally used by professionalsemail. It's very much in line with LinkedIn's mission to make professionals more productive and successful in their careers."
LinkedIn has proven successful enough in that regard. Through a combination of advertising and selling hiring solutions to professional recruiters, the company went public last May. LinkedIn's opening IPO price of $83 surprised the high-tech world.
Earlier this month, the company reported fourth-quarter income and revenue that beat Wall Street estimates. Net income was $6.9 million and revenue came in at $167.7 million, more than doubling from $81.7 million in the same period in 2010.
The Rapportive deal isn't the first time LinkedIn has dipped its toe in the contact management pool. The company acquired Connected for real-time contact management last October.