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Alibaba-backed search startup Quixey is shutting down (bizjournals.com)
63 points by apsec112 on Mar 20, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 19 comments

Quixey was a big sponsor to the college hackathon scene. They spent money on sponsorships all over the place. The engineers were for the most part good people, but the CEO Tomer was entitled and verbally abusive to people who got on his bad side. I think Tomer had a Steve Jobs complex. He would give talks about how great his startup skills were, and give keynote talks about how Quixey was changing the world. But it was apparent that Quixey had little traction and was going nowhere.

As time went on, Quixey kept sponsoring hackathons but Tomer would blow up at the students organizing them for little to no reason. He's a 30-year-old man, and he would be screaming at the top of his lungs at high school and college kids because he thought they had slighted the sponsorship. He threatened to not pay sponsorships after the fact, said he would tell his founder friends to "blacklist" hackathons, and even said he wanted to sue students for breach of contract.

That's most of my experience with Quixey the company. I never did use their product, but I'm not really sad to see them shut down.

Ha! I remember that. It was all over secret.ly .

They freaked out because they weren't able to get the biggest room at one of the events.

Good riddance, I say.

Quixey was the lead sponsor at a large college hackathon (I think LA Hacks) I was at a couple years ago. They were trying to build a search engine based on deep-linking into other mobile apps. A very good idea ("why doesn't google also search your phone's apps?"), but very hard to beat Google at it. The value needs to be very strong to get people to use it as a default search engine.

Google does index the content of apps that is not available on the web if you want and let them do it. But you see them in serps only the if you have the apps in question installed.

Quixey's tech could do it without the "if you want and let them do it" part .. by which I don't mean permissions, but that no special arrangements need to be made by the apps.

It is analogous to how google crawls websites with Javascript .. which are essentially applications that need to be "run" before you can get to their content.

> The value needs to be very strong to get people to use it as a default search engine.

I am not sure if this is true. It seems to me switching search engines is rather painless. I think if someone were to provide the same search quality as google and offer e.g. more privacy a lot of people would switch. Switching search engines is a lot easier than switching social networks or email provider.

I once won $100 from their competition, but never figured out how they are going to be profitable. Independent mobile app search makes little sense when there are two App Stores (Android and App Store) with builtin search.

My understanding of "app search" is that they weren't search for the apps themselves – they were making the contents of the apps visible to other apps installed on a device. Quixey helped pioneer deep linking, iirc.

Isn't deep linking by definition a feature that had to be implemented by iOS and Android?

Definitely – but I would consider that to be separate from simply finding apps in the app store.

They've been on a downward slide for a while. I think many are thinking, "Were they still alive?" From what I've heard, they have good engineers so their tech folks should land well.

Not a surprise. Many other sites tried (and failed) to do app discovery/recommendation without having a defensible competitive advantage (ie selling analytics and ads may not be enough). Other apps in the overlapping third-party app store / update notifier spaces have met a similar fate (ie Bodega) while some survive (ie Ninite, Secunia PSI).

alternativeto is currently a leader (ad-supported) but doesn't have a "moat" around it other than popularity.

I would remember their Quixey Challenges. They had some nice problems as part of them and if you were able to spot the bug correctly, you got $100 + a hoodie.

The conspiracy theory is that they are an attempt by the Chinese goverment to search user apps.

> No comments

Is this the startup equivalent of having a funeral where no one shows up?

Oh, I deserve punishment for this, but Startups are so 2017...

Really, seriously, though the startup drum has been beat very hard indeed - not merely by the magnifier anything which reaches mainstream press from anywhere thought to be technology. But I forget when I last read about a startup that either was developing technology, or was a startup in the sense I originally understood. I think I lost the appreciation I did have, when to pivot became a seemingly overnight, instantaneous, blanket verb to admit no wrong and plow on burning cash regardless of a total failure to relate real world to prospectus.

What I have enjoyed seeing from afar, is much more valuable, however, than the spectacular sums sunk in startup mirage wells: the idea that it is a good thing to swing for the fence, in particular when young and resilient to life's knocks (albeit tempered massively by the new new new medieval economy of absent social and financial safety) and the widespread promulgation of baseline knowledge how to handle just starting a company, and demystifying the corporate world, I believe will pay dividends in eventually spurring - allow me a sincere hope - a renaissance of small business. Because there sure is not much, sometimes I look, thriving in the penumbra of ZIRP funded corporate giganticism. I was just reading Berkshire Hathaway's 1990 report, yesterday. BRK was still counting in millions and tens of millions, and hundred of millions in equity... This epochal inflation has happened while so many grew up, it may be that economic historians, at least of the contrarian kind, ponder whether the startup boom was not a fear induced, hysterical, reaction to the absolute necessity to hit ball after ball out the park, in the early 21st century, to dare dream of a home and family.

edit, somehow auto correct dumped "romanticism" in the least fitting place...

Starting a search engine in 2017 is kinda like starting a stagecoach company in 1917.

How so?

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