Dexetra, the makers of Friday, a contextual personal search application for Android, has raised a Series A round of funding. The investment comes from Sequoia Capital (India) and Qualcomm Ventures, and is in the “millions” (between $1 and $2 million). The company won’t disclose the final amount because there’s still a possibility that new investors will be joining the round at a later date.
The funding comes at a time when there’s a shift underway in the search industry as a whole. Users are beginning to interact with search in new ways, such as through voice search and personal assistants, for example, and search itself is becoming more personalized and predictive. Google has been toying with experimental features where Gmail data is included in users’ search results and social signals are integrated via Google+. Plus, the personalized and automated Google Now feature pops up local info, weather, appointments, traffic alerts, and more on devices running the latest version of the Android OS.
Friday, meanwhile, is similar in that it too is built on top of users’ own, personal data and activity. The app, for those unfamiliar, publicly debuted last July (on a Friday!) offering what could be summed up as “a search engine for your life.” Friday, which is part personal assistant, part search engine, and part “quantified self” data keeper, keeps a history of your communications, including calls, text messages, emails and more, and combines those with other events your phone is able to record, such as photos snapped and battery drains, and then it mashes it all together with data from third-party services, like Facebook and Foursquare.
On top of all this personal data, users can also install mini applications called “applets,” which offer single use cases to help make sense of the data Friday collects. One of the first applets to launch was called Trails, a travel diary that shows your travels plotted on a map. In a about a week, CEO Narayan Babu tells me that we’ll finally see another applet make its debut – this one will be for photo search. Another music-focused applet will follow in around a month. The company also has an alternative phone dialer app in development, which shows you not a recent call log, but a list of the people you are most likely going to call based on your current context. (However, three big Android OEMs are interested in that one, and have made offers, so its launch is being delayed for now.)
Dexetra also has a slightly older app, the Siri-like Android app called Iris, but the company now thinks it will sunset Iris and fold its users into Friday going forward. The two apps were more tightly integrated this fall, but Iris’ functionality could just be incorporated into Friday in the future, if need be.
Something that’s a bit surprising about the funding news is that Friday is not the kind of hugely popular application that would normally see a big investment – it doesn’t have built-in virality because of the sensitive, personal data it stores. That makes word-of-mouth growth more challenging. Babu tells me that the app has just 120,000 users currently on Android. However, those users have generated a lot of files (files being anything from a photo snapped to a check-in or song played and more). To date, 130 million of these “files” have been recorded, he says.
Going forward, the plan is to now work with Qualcomm to integrate the app with Qualcomm’s AllJoyn, an experimental development framework that enables ad hoc, proximity-based communication between mobile devices.
Having just recently transplanted its seventeen-person team to San Francisco, Dexetra will also use the additional funding for hiring. The company is mainly in search of designers, because making sense of a wealth of personal data isn’t only a technical challenge, it’s a visual challenge too.