Contact management and synchronization service Soocial is to be shut down on July 31, 2013. Viadeo, the France-headquartered business social network company that acquired Soocial over a year ago, says that the decision is a question of focus.

“Our focus on the integration of Soocial into Viadeo has been on how to help our members extend their professional network by connecting your various address books,” the company wrote in an announcement. “Maintaining two different services in this context is wasteful and the user demand for a standalone Soocial service has appeared too low.”

In short, the original plan was to integrate as much of Amsterdam-based Soocial’s technology into the Viadeo.com website and then migrate Soocial users across to Viadeo. The former will continue but the latter will not, as LinkedIn-rival Viadeo has decided “the feature sets are going to be very different.”

Most importantly, Viadeo does not provide any form of two-way sync, which was always an important part of Soocial. The company says it believes the problem has been largely solved by larger companies, specifically noting that Android syncs contacts with Gmail and iOS does with iCloud, and it was never able “to find the mass of users that really needed a solution to this issue and were willing to pay for it.”

Soocial officially launched in November 2008, allowing users to sync data between computers, phones, and Web applications. At the time, Soocial CEO Stefan Fountain Stefan told us that he was planning to add syncing with Windows Live, Yahoo Mail, LinkedIn and “devices like the iPhone.” Soocial had just added support for Outlook, BlackBerry, and “over 400 types of mobile phones.”

That was a big deal, especially for business customers, less than five years ago. My, how times have changed.

For reference, here’s the full announcement:

We could pretend that this is painful – but actually we are keen to start the next chapter fully and wholeheartedly – so it’s not too bad. And the new projects we are working on are pretty kick-ass so we’re happy.

In short:
We are shutting down Soocial.com as a service because we can’t support working on maintaining all the sync clients and sync server while we are working on future coolness within Viadeo. The execution will happen on July 31st, 2013.

Why are we shutting down Soocial.com?
It is a matter of focus. Our focus on the integration of Soocial into Viadeo has been on how to help our members extend their professional network by connecting your various address books. Maintaining two different services in this context is wasteful and the user demand for a standalone Soocial service has appeared too low.

Use technology not users.
When Soocial was acquired by Viadeo over a year ago, the plan was to integrate as much of the Soocial technology into the Viadeo.com website and after that to migrate the Soocial users to Viadeo to keep them syncing happily ever after. While we have (and are continuing to) integrate parts of our code into Viadeo we have decided not to migrate the users over because the feature sets are going to be very different. Viadeo does not provide any form of two way sync.

History
Over the years Soocial took on a very ambitious challenge to solve the address book issue where users would have different sets of contacts on different devices and online sources. We have solved it for some users and for some others we are the only solution they have found that really works. But we never were able to find the mass of users that really needed a solution to this issue and were willing to pay for it.

In the meanwhile, for the majority of users the issue was solved by other software manufacturers; for example: Android’s sync contacts with Gmail and iOS does its iCloud magic. So in many ways we feel that the challenge has been partly solved and our time has come to move on and focus on a different kind of cool.

When?
We are planning to turn off all syncing by July 31st 2013.

What will happen exactly?
The schedule to discontinue the Soocial service is going to be:

From July 1st

  • No more new signups.
  • No more payments accepted.
  • If you are already premium we will not be charging you any more.

Further

  • If you have paid in advance for a whole year, we offer a refund (Just send us a quick mail).
  • If you have been one of the lucky life-time members – you’ve had an awesome deal. No refunds. Thanks for your support though.
  • Everything else will continue the same until July 31st.
  • On July 31st we will turn off all syncing. So you won’t be able to sync and update your contacts anymore. Effectively Soocial will be read-only from this day on.
  • We’ll leave the Soocial.com site up for another month untill August 31st in order for you to be able to get your data and backups.
  • If you’re a Soocial user, we’ll be sending you a separate email outlining this as well as more specific details regarding your situation.

What’s next then?
As a team we haven’t changed too much. We’ve actually grown a bit since the acquisition and we are happily working on cool new products to be used within Viadeo. For example we are working on a kickass new contacts tool for your Viadeo network.

As a team we travel to Paris every few weeks. Soocial founder Stefan Fountain spends most of his working days in the Paris HQ and is in charge of the B2C product teams for Viadeo.

Eggs ‘n ham
And for those who are curious — yes, on fridays we still have ham and eggs for lunch, a tradition we started back in 2009.

Thanks and goodbye.
Of course we are a little sad to bring an end to this project into which we have put so much of our time and energy. But truthfully, the new stuff is much more exciting. We would like to thank everybody that has made use of our service, both paying and free users. This is both and end and a new beginning.

The (ex-)Soocial team.

See also – Now at 45m members, LinkedIn rival Viadeo lands $32m to spur growth in Europe, emerging countries

Headline image via Thinkstock