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Alibaba-Backed Quixey Shutting Down

Quixey, a seven-year-old mobile search company that raised more than $130 million from Alibaba Group and others, is in the process of shutting down, said a person with direct knowledge of the situation. Numerous employees were laid off two weeks ago, according to a former employee.

Quixey came to prominence as a potential alternative to Google Search, at least when it came to look for native mobile apps and, later, for information within those apps. In-app search has long been a tricky problem, even for Google. (Background here and here.) For a time, Quixey shifted its focus to providing search technology directly for the benefit of Alibaba, a large Chinese online commerce company. Alibaba made its most recent investment in the company at a post-money valuation north of $500 million two years ago.

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Among other things, Quixey more recently developed some technology to let people search for content within apps. It also developed “digital assistant” software that, similar to other assistants like Apple’s Siri, allows people to quickly speak a command to their smartphone to call a specific person using an app like WhatsApp, for instance. Last year another startup that also worked on “in-app search,” called URX, shut down and was effectively acqui-hired by Pinterest.

Kevin Lee and John Landers commented on this article.
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