App search company Quixey is today announcing it has closed a $20 million round Series B funding. The round includes previous investors WI Harper Group, U.S. Venture Partners and Innovation Endeavors as well as new investors Atlantic Bridge, SK planet and Translink Capital, which the company says it chose with internationalization in mind.
The additional capital will be primarily used to help continue fund Quixey’s growth, and specifically to help it deal with its increasing overhead. The company has been hiring like crazy, going from 6 to 30 people over the past year, and it plans to pass 60 employees by year-end with new hires arriving on Quixey’s data, technical and research teams soon.
The company, whose main focus is on improving app discoverability through search, may not be as well-known as the app search service Chomp, which Apple acquired in February. However, that’s by design. Instead of focusing on a consumer-facing service, Quixey primarily works with partners to power the backend of their own app search products. These partners include OEMs, mobile carriers, web platforms, browsers, and search engines. However, due to partner agreements, Quixey can’t disclose the companies using its service today.
But to give you an idea of where you would find its offerings – it could be in an carrier’s app store, an app search feature built into a browser, or a search feature built into a mobile phone platform, to name a few. The company is even working in the newly app-enabled auto industry to make app discovery work better in cars where driver distraction needs to be kept to a minimum.
According to CEO Tomer Kagan, Quixey will have “a lot more” announcements to come over the next six months, but has to wait for the green light from partners before revealing what those may be.
One thing I was curious about was how the Chomp acquisition may have affected Quixey’s business, and therefore, perhaps, this new round of funding. But according to Kagan, the impact in terms of deals lost or gained due to Chomp was virtually non-existent. “I only know of one deal Chomp ever had, which was Verizon, and it never went live,” Kagan says. “We never in the past lost a deal to them when they were out there…Chomp was more of a mixed user-play and integration, but we built all of our tools and services so that they’re easy to integrate,” he adds.
One thing Kagan did credit Chomp with was drumming up interest in the app discovery market. “I will say that what Chomp did that was really great is bring more light on the need for discovery. And Apple’s acquisition of Chomp really highlighted the fact that app search and app discovery in any form is necessary,” he says.
That need is more apparent than ever, as the web moves further away from the static websites of years past to services which exist on many platforms, both as websites and native experiences. “We believe in something we call the functional web,” says Kagan, “which is the functional web of software. When you look at something like Yelp, for example, is Yelp a website or app? It doesn’t matter if you’re accessing Yelp on the web or a phone, you’re accessing a piece of software on a server somewhere,” he explains. “The connection between your need and [apps'] ability to do what you want them to do, we call this the ‘functional web.’”
To address the challenge of crawling the world of apps, Quixey employs different techniques than a traditional search engine. App search companies today often replicate the traditional search model when it comes to indexing apps – that is, they examine an app’s title, metadata and description (things all input by a developer) in order to figure out what an app is and what it does. Quixey, however, looks at the world around an app – meaning any time someone talks about an app, writes about an app, reviews an app, etc. Quixey can predict how people think of the app, how they use the app, what functionality the app provides and more.
“We built our search from ground up,” says Kagan, “new data collection, new ways we structure our data, and then we had to build new algorithms on top of that.”
As noted above, internationalization was key factor in choosing investors, as were their ties to partners. On that front, Quixey will be rolling out its app search engine in a dozen more languages in the near future.