Mobile app search engine Quixey, backed by $75 million from Alibaba, Innovation Endeavors, Translink Capital and others, has put some of those dollars to use by acquiring a smaller, competing app search startup, San Francisco-based Kite.io. The deal was more of a talent grab, we hear, bringing Kite.io’s founders to Quixey where they’ll continue to help the company build out its search technology.
Terms of the deal are not being disclosed, but it was a mixture of cash and stock. Kite.io itself had not raised any funding.
Kite.io was founded in February 2013, after growing out of a side project started by co-founder Phillip Nelson the year prior.
Nelson had previously co-founded several startups, including Tokbox and Snaptickets. He was joined by Jason Hreha, whose background is in neuroscience, and worked for behavioral economist Dan Ariely, which helped him develop an innate understanding of how people use and process information. The two are the only full-time staff at Kite.io, and both will now be joining Quixey in Mountain View.
At Kite.io, Nelson and Hreha were developing technology that would allow users to search across the web and apps at the same time. That’s something that Google itself has also been developing with the introduction of mobile app deep links, which are now indexed by Google, allowing the information inside Android apps to be surfaced in Google search results.
Google first introduced this technology in November, and recently expanded it to include two dozen more applications, it said earlier this month.
In Kite.io’s case, the startup had launched an Android application offering similar functionality. Called Kite Search Bar, the app would surface search results from the apps on your phone as well as web search results, all within a single interface.
That app will now be shut down, we’re told.
“What drew us most to Kite was their advanced ability to see inside apps,” says Quixey co-founder and CEO Tomer Kagan. “Their technology will be instrumental in how we move forward with our vision for Functional Search and begin to surface the information and functionality locked within apps.”
Being able to look inside applications, index and link to that data is technology a number of companies have been working to develop, including also Cellogic (Deeplink.me), Tapstream, Appsfire, recent Yahoo acquisition SPARQ, URX, and also Quixey itself, via its AppURL initiative. Earlier this year, a team of mobile marketers, including TapCommerce, AcitionX, and Criteo, teamed up to push a new specification around this technology, as well.