Solve Your Gmail Contacts Problem

I live in Gmail. Gmail Contacts has been lame for a long time. Within an email, it’s even lamer on the right side bar, especially since it could be so amazingly useful.

FullContact has just released their FullContact for Gmail product. It’s a free download in the Chrome Store. I’ve been using it for about six months since and it’s just awesome.

I’ve been obsessed about the contact management problem for many years. In 2012 when we invested in FullContact, I wrote a post titled One Address Book To Rule Them All. FullContact has made great progress in the past two years on this problem while building a substantial enterprise API business. At the same time, we’ve been working extremely hard on a wide range of consumer products which are all just now rolling out into production (many have been in beta for the past year.)

I use all of them. FullContact for Gmail. FullContact for iOS. FullContact for MacOS. FullContact Web. All integrate with each Address Books on all my devices and computers. Everything syncs bidirectionally. Everything integrates with my contacts in Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, AngelList, and Foursquare. FullContact deduplicates everything so I only have one integrated contact record for each person. It enriches each contact record automatically with new public data that is finding on a continual basis.

This is a really hard problem. We invested in a company called Gist in 2009 – it was acquired early in its life by RIM in a deal that was financially successful for everyone involved, but before Gist rolled out in a big way. At the time, Gist was competing with several other companies, including Rapportive, all which were ultimately acquired and then more or less abandoned.

While we hoped to blanket the world with FullContact in 2014, we knew that waiting until we got the underlying massively large data infrastructure right, at scale, in a way that wouldn’t fuck up any contacts, was price of admission for going big on the consumer side. So we focused on building out our enterprise API business which started the year at a substantial level and tripled in 2014. At the same time, we acquired a company called CoBook and went extremely heads down on getting to a place where we thought we were ready to fix everyone’s address books on Planet Earth.

We are there. FullContact for Gmail is the first product to be released. If you are a Gmail user, quit fooling around, download it, and make your life a lot better right now. And get ready for several more releases in the next few months.

The FullContact team works as hard as any team I know. I’m proud of you guys and glad to be on this ride with you to finally solve a problem that has vexed me my entire adult life.

  • Mike Bayes

    Thanks Brad… going to download now.

    • Enjoy – feedback welcome!

  • Question… I have a few (3, actually) gmail accounts. Do I download the plugin for each one, or do I only download it once and that account will sync all my contacts from all 3 accounts?

  • Robert Krishan Srivastava

    Thanks I appreciate the tip. I was going to spend the entire holidays figuring out a solution for all my new 2014 contacts. Happy Hanukkah!!! Rob–

    • Just work on it a little each night…

      • Robert Krishan Srivastava

        Yep….daily habits helps me to get a lot accomplished w/out pain.

  • LD Eakman

    I don’t believe you. This can’t be true but I hope it is.

    • I look forward to making a believer out of you.

  • Guest

    They need to pay more attention to Zindex and collisions; right now I use Yesware and Tout on different machines and it looks dumb in both my 1080p monitor and my retina monitor.

  • Goodbye Rapportive, Hello FullContact.

    sorry to add to the support line for FC, how do I edit my info? (Rapportive used to allow the owner to edit/adjust their info). I can see I’m able to hide info, and change order, but not edit.

    • mattrhubbard

      Hi, William. We’ll introduce a “claim your profile” feature in the coming weeks so you can edit what others will see about you. This feature will become more robust over time.

      • great.
        i figured the source of what i wanted to correct was LinkedIn so I updated it there. How quickly to your refresh profiles that you have gathered from LI?

        • It varies as we are only using publicly available data. The claim your profile solution will be the best one when it rolls out.

  • Very awesome and greatly needed! Unfortunately I’ve just switched to the new Google Inbox. Any plans to integrate with it?

    • mattrhubbard

      Hi, Thomas. No plans in the immediate future, although I’ve added Google Inbox integration to our idea forum.

  • I’m amazed at how many years it really takes to ramp up a company — in most cases.

    It truly takes vision and the ability to create a team that will pull through.

    That’s what is both great and difficult about entrepreneurship.

    Speaking as a consumer, this is definitely something that’s needed; and true accuracy and deduplication of contacts across multiple platforms, in hindsight, has felt nearly impossible to expect, particularly in view of the fact that this feature set is currently so broken, even with Apple’s iCloud, as I’m personally experiencing. (I keep having to sort / remove duplicates which proliferate on their own like offsprings!)

    As an aside, I’m not personally convinced all the way with the view that the word “passion” belongs exclusively in the bedroom 🙂 — something I’ve heard you say in the past — but I can fully appreciate in the context of this post why you would seek founders who are “obsessed” with their product vision. Yeah, you’d need that to solve a problem like this IMO.

    All this is assuming that Full Contacts’s product will blow my socks off. But you’ve given me the hope that it will and I’m going to install it.

    • How did it work?

      This is a really, really hard problem. It’s part of why it has taken so long to get it right at scale. Gist was at it for two years and just getting there when they got acquired by RIM.

      In my investing career, I generally have one or two companies a year that have real breakout years. These are companies, like FullContact, that have been grinding it out on a relatively small amount of capital, building a deep business and product, and then explode on the scene.

      I think 2015 is the year for FullContact. They were founded in 2010 and have only raised a little over $15m (including the $6.5m round that was just closed). So they’ve made enormous progress on $9m and are ready to really crank.

      Re: Passion vs. Obsession: I prefer obsession.

      • I definitely like it and will use it.

        To give context, I usually quickly abandon / delete well over half of the products / apps I try.

        This one is making it onto the short list.

  • jerrycolonna

    Just want to add a comment that is highly unusual for me in that it’s not about depression or suffering or other blah, blah, blah stuff. I love FullContact. I’ve been using the beta for months. I upgraded to the full version when it came out. And last night bought the premium version.

    • FullContact tells me I just missed your birthday. Happy birthday @jerrycolonna:disqus

    • Ack! I missed your birthday too. Damn. Still trying to be awesome with people like my wife. Work in progress, I suppose 😉

  • alimoeeny

    I know that already all my contacts are all over the place, but still there is a serious privacy issue here. I have contacts in my contacts that they may not like their relation with me or their details exposed to anyone. Does FullContact provide any solutions for this? like selective exclusion …?

  • alimoeeny

    Specifically, Imagine a friend of mine, who has an “anonymous” twitter account, while I know that who she is so in my contacts her twitter and email are associates, but nobody else knows this association. Do they use this association to “deduplicate” her twitter and email contacts on other people’s accounts?

  • Christian Dodder

    Will it communicate with a CRM like Infusionsoft too?

    • mattrhubbard

      Hi, Christian. We’re planning some CRM integrations in the future. No timeline or details yet. Thanks for your feedback.

  • Please notify us when the iOS version is available. I’m interested to try it though with trepidation. I just tried Brewster and wound up with a ton of Dupes

  • Thank you for this tip Brad. I’ve been looking for a tool to manage and merge contacts. I’ve tried several. This one will likely stay as a tool that I rely on. I was able to update contacts, merge duplicates, and delete old contacts easily.

    • Great. Glad you are liking it. Feedback welcome!

  • I just did Brewster and getting up to speed on that. FullContact fixes which additional problems for me than they do?
    I hate contact management as much as I hate email. Maybe even more.

  • Evan Patronik

    I’ve been a Rapportive user for about 6 months, a FullContact user for about 2, and man am I excited to see the Gmail plugin. I installed it immediately when I saw it released a few days ago, disabled rapportive, and I’ve been my inbox ever since. Unfortunately I use an aging 2008 Macbook so my plugins take up most of my screen…I don’t think FullContact can resolve that hardware dilemma!

    I’m very excited to see an iOS app as well; I just recently decided I needed to take serious control of my contacts from my personal and business life and it was kind of overwhelming wondering just how in the hell I was going to do that.

    @mattrhubbard:disqus, I saw you commenting on CRM integrations and that would be phenomenal. Right now I’m using Base CRM and enjoying it, but its integrations with google contacts and the lack of true bidirectional sync is frustrating to say the least. I’m excited at the prospect of FullContact becoming the go-to contact utility!

    Thanks for the great blog, @bfeld:disqus. I’m a relatively new follower but I’ve been enjoying it very much. Looking forward to all the insight! Happy holidays everybody.

    • Thanks @evanpatronik:disqus – welcome to the blog. Give us feedback on FullContact, and anything else, any time.

      • Evan Patronik

        Will do.

  • Loved Gist. based on UR Recommendations, I have download it! fingers crossed!

    • Fingers still crossed? Any feedback?

  • Like you, I’ve been obsessed with this problem for a while too. And I’ve been burned by “solutions” before. I’m optimistically downloading it now.

    • Stay optimistic on this one. How is it working?

      • I like the sidebar in gmail for sure. I’ve not spent much time fiddling with it yet – syncing my contacts scares me a little 🙂

        It’s also not obvious to me how to add more than one Gmail account.

        or how this will help me on iOS and Android.

        • If you have more than one Gmail account, then FC will sync and dedup all your contacts. You can still separate them as much as you want by account, or have one master account of contacts.

          iOS version coming very soon (early January) and is just epic.

          • Let some emails pile up over the last week or two, so I’m cleaning up now and I’m paying attention to the new sidebar. I like it a lot.

            Can’t wait to see the iOS app, but my gut tells me this is still more valuable if I use gmail on the web, which is something I’ve fought for years. In 2010 I gave up and used it for a few months and then went back to a desktop client. Then on 3/3 this year, I did the same and that only lasted five days. 🙂

            Anyway, things look good so far.

  • Breathes deeply. Installs extension. Crosses fingers. Dives in!

    • How is it working for you?

      • Fine? Worked on some things over the weekend and am withholding verdict until Cobook becomes Full Contact on iOS. Deduping seems good in the web app. No false positives as far as I can see but maybe a few false positives would be good… be more aggressive? It sucked in a bunch of “notification” addresses which is messy. The issue for the webapp is that it’s a “backup” in my mind but not where I start. iOS app changes that. The Gmail extension doesn’t feel that useful. At least not yet…. and it NEEDS multi-gmail support. That’s the biggie! I’ll give it a month and then compete it with Brewster.

        • What do you mean by “multi-Gmail” support. You should be able to add as many Gmail accounts as you want.

          I think you’ll love the iOS app when it ships in January.

          • Per Scott’s comment below – multi gmail contacts merged to one Account. Looks like it’s coming. That would be amazing.

          • mattrhubbard

            To clarify, we allow you to connect multiple Google accounts, but we only allow you to sync one Google account to your Unified Contacts. Google accounts 2, 3, etc. will currently be connected in isolation and won’t sync with any others. Support for syncing multiple Google accounts is coming in the near future. This feature obviously needs to be developed with care, so we want to get it right rather than rush out a half-baked solution. I hope that helps.

          • Ah – yup. Coming soon…

        • mattrhubbard

          Thanks for the feedback on the quality of our deduplication. We’ll be improving our algorithm on a continuous basis. So far, users have expressed very different perspectives on whether false positives are good or not. It’s a tough issue, but we have a lot of planned improvements for the future. Also, if you catch any duplicates that we haven’t suggested for you, you can multi-select them and use the Merge function to merge them. iOS is coming soon, and you can expect new features in FullContact for Gmail throughout this year.

  • Installed it tonight. So far, working well. I like the UI, and it’s an easy way to keep contacts organized across accounts.

    • Upgraded to Premium, too. I have too many contacts!

      • Super! Holler with any / all feedback.

  • Excited to give the product a test-run. first experience gud, with the exception of facebook images not importing. about 1/2 of my FB profile images appear in the unified contact, while the others don’t. thoughts?

    • mattrhubbard

      Hi, Ralph. There were some issues on Facebook’s side overnight that delayed the import of pictures for some users. I’d give it 12+ hours and check again. Also, be advised that what we can import from Facebook and other social networks is dependent on the privacy settings of your contacts in those services.

  • FullContact is neat and I love using their API with OpenRefine but the center of my contact universe is my Mac OS X contacts and iCloud, not Google, as the iCloud file holds things like custom ringtones and familial relationships that Google does not. I am hopeful they’ll have a setup that works better with that soon, or maybe I’m just missing something.

    • Sean Porter

      Understood completely, Matt. We’re heavily invested in supporting the entire Apple ecosystem, and we’ll demonstrate that more clearly with releases in the next few months.