2. August 2012–
Mobile app search company Xyologic today announced an undisclosed sum of funding from Rick Thompson's Signia Venture Partners, Klaas Kersting and SoundCloud co-founder Eric Wahlforss, and released a new search engine for Android apps in private beta.
It's the first external funding the company has taken on since Matthaus Krzykowski, Zoe Adamovicz and Marcin Rudolf (left to right, above) founded it in 2010, and will be used to accelerate tech development, starting by rolling out the new search engine for iOS and other mobile platforms as soon as possible. "We're hiring on the development side really aggressively," Krzykowski told VentureVillage.
There's a need for speed if Xyologic wants to be a global leader in this space. Apple acquired one of Xyologic's competitors, Chomp, in February. Another app search and discovery engine, Quixey, raised a $20 million Series B round in June.
The new investors bring strong networks to push future growth. Both Thompson (founder of Playdom, acquired by Disney in 2010 for $760-odd million) and Kersting (co-founder of Gameforge) have serious clout in the international gaming community (one of the most profitable mobile app genres); Wahlforss will help Xyologic keep its strong ties to the startup community in Berlin.
Xyologic's current team of 12 is split between the company HQ in Berlin and technical office in Warsaw. The company until now ran on revenue brought in by private consulting for McKinsey, Zynga, Microsoft as well as a range of smaller clients.
New-look search engine to draw out "zombie apps"
The most visually striking part of the revamped search engine, which groups apps into 700 genres including over 100 game genres, is the "look inside the appstore" front page, an automatically-generated grid of editor's picks and suggestions.
Most importantly, especially for app publishers, is how the app search rankings will work. Krzykowski says today's private beta release is the "first crop" of about one and a half year's work to figure out the best way to do this. "I don't know how many prototypes we built, how many options we built..."
With the new release, Xyologic is building on its existing app search and analytics system (the company publishes over 220 free reports each month), incorporating factors such as estimated downloads, download growth rate and user ratings and including, for the first time, highlighted user comments ("app sentiments").
One of the goals is to draw out excellent apps with otherwise zero visibility on app store rankings - app zombies, as new Berlin app analytics site AppTrace puts it. "Sometimes apps that only have 200 downloads show up in the results," Krzykowski says.
With app developers and publishers depending on such rankings for revenue, it's a tough crowd to please. The Xyologic team don't claim all the answers yet (just a few better ones).
The easy way's not an option
It would probably be easier (more profitable and less risky) to stick to app stats publishing, the area Xyologic is still best known for, but the team's enthusiasm for the app search and discovery side of the business is obvious:
"There are only a couple of hundred apps that really get discovered each month," Krzykowski says. "If we can push it to a couple of hundred more, or a couple of thousand, we give the overall industry a better deal. That's one of our big goals."
Users can give feedback on Xyologic's closed beta for Android at www.xyologic.com.