Yahoo acquires Alike app development team

By Sooraj Shah
14 Feb 2013 View Comments
yahoo's Marissa Mayer

Yahoo has agreed to acquire the development team of mobile app company Propeld, the third mobile start-up it has bought in four months.

As first reported by TechCrunch, Propeld's Alike app allows users to discover and recommend nearby venues and places to visit based on their interests.

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On its website, Alike said: "We've always been passionate about the growing power of intelligent mobile experiences. We believe that distilled information, deeply personalised and made accessible anytime and anywhere, is what makes mobile experiences a part of our customers' daily lives."

It added: "In Yahoo we've found a team as excited about this vision as we are, and who are serious about making it real. We're super excited to join Yahoo's mobile team, where we can march toward that vision faster than ever."

The Alike app itself will shut down, while the development team will move from Seattle to Yahoo's headquarters in Sunnyvale, California.

In a statement, Yahoo said: "The Alike team created an app that focuses on personalisation - using the restaurants and places you like to find the ones you'll love. We were very impressed by the team and their approach to building personalized experiences."

The acquisition will be Marissa Mayer's third since becoming Yahoo CEO, after hiring the development teams from recommendation mobile app Stamped, content curation site and video chat app OnTheAir.

According to Business Week, the deal mirrors moves Mayer made in her last two years with Google, when she focused on combining the acquisitions of Zagat and Frommer's into different Google products to enable users to find information and opinions on nearby restaurants or businesses.

The co-founder of Propeld and former Microsoft employee Maria Zhang last year described the Alike app as being focused on interpreting and analysing big data.

"We've painstakingly collected hundreds of terabytes of data and crafted complex algorithms to really understand the essence of a place. We compare these essences to discover similar places. The great thing about this big data approach is that there is no waiting for a critical mass of 500 of your friends or ten million other people for the service to be useful," she told GeekWire in October.

Similar apps such as AroundMe and Yelp attempt to find a specific or nearest restaurant or business and its location.

The recommendation engine, which combines ‘search' and ‘social' functions is something that has grown from an online phenomenon - in areas such as Amazon's 'people who bought that, also bought' e-commerce recommendations to Netflix's movie recommendations.

People are becoming increasingly reliant on mobile devices with access to location services, meaning that the recommendation engine is moving to applications that are available on smartphones and tablets.

Yahoo seemingly wants to tap into this market, with TechCrunch speculating that the struggling internet company will use Alike's technology to use data from Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare to recommend nearby businesses.

In October, Mayer stated Yahoo's intention to focus on mobile.

"Mobile represents not only a daily habit, but a fundamental and massive platform shift, a platform shift that we have to ride and participate in, in order to be relevant," she said.

"Our top priority is a focused, coherent, mobile strategy," she claimed.

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