A notable personnel departure is coming up in Cupertino: Cathy Edwards, the co-founder and CTO of app search and discovery platform Chomp, is leaving Apple on April 11, TechCrunch has learned. Apple, if you recall, acquired Chomp in February 2012 for $50 million, kickstarting a long-term revamp of how users search for and discover apps in the iOS App Store and elsewhere in the Apple ecosystem (which is ever in progress).
After joining Apple, Edwards has been part of some of the projects most central to Apple’s mobile effort on the software front.
She first took on the role of Head of Search and Measurement, where she was, “responsible for search systems across multiple Apple products enjoyed by hundreds of millions of users each day. These include search for the App Store, iTunes and Maps,” according to her LinkedIn profile. The fact that her expertise was quickly transferred to cover more than just apps speaks to how core search is to the wider Apple experience.
Eight months later, just before Apple discontinued Chomp altogether, she became the Director, Evaluation and Quality, Apple Maps.
She joined that role at a pretty thankless time, if you recall the chaos of Apple Maps-gate. Edwards’ role at Apple Maps has focused on “Building out an organization focused on QA automation, statistical quality analysis and analytics within Maps,” according to LinkedIn. Essentially, her work was about making sure that Apple Maps didn’t suck, something that remains a goal for the company. “We’re hiring, come join us!” ends the description. This remains her role up to today.
From what we understand, Edwards will be taking time out after she leaves April 11 and before making her next move. Both she and Chomp co-founder Ben Keighran hail from Australia — where Edwards studied math, computer science and linguistics (an intriguing combination when you consider the work she did later in search). Edwards, a source tells us, plans to stay on in Silicon Valley after her departure from Apple.
It’s not clear exactly why she is leaving but it’s been just over two years since Apple acquired her company, so it may be in connection with the terms of that deal. It’s also not clear if Keighran or any other Chomp employees who are still at Apple are leaving at the same time (some have moved on already). We’re trying to find out and will update as and when we learn more.
In the meantime, Apple continues to improve its search, and is currently testing a new way of offering users keyword-based related topics.