Yahoo acquired the Stanford alumni-founded and former StartX company Aviate this month. The purchase is part of a series of companies and technologies recently acquired by the search engine, including another Stanford alumni-founded company, PeerCDN.
Aviate, acquired by Yahoo for an undisclosed amount, created an app and ecosystem for the Android operating system—one which contextually changes what users see based on where they are and what they are doing. The company was also featured at StartX’s Demo Day last year.
Paul Montoy-Wilson ‘08 M.S. ‘09, William Choi ‘09 M.S. ‘09 and Mark Daiss founded the company.
“Aviate does two things. It simplifies your phone, and makes your phone smarter,” Montoy-Wilson said. “The vision of our product is to surface the world of information at the moment it’s useful.”
Montoy-Wilson explained that what the app does fundamentally is solve a search problem, changing search from being keyword-based to one that is more contextual. He said that with the huge number of apps and amount of data available, getting to it all quickly is more difficult than ever.
“[There are two] problems—one is the front end, where we get to build the user experience for the world that we live in today,” he added. “On the back end, it’s a new search problem.”
“Things like your location, your speed, your usage pattern, your email habits can be used to help surface relevant apps and information based on what you do,” he explained.
Montoy-Wilson added that the Yahoo acquisition gave them the opportunity to connect more users to the app, and get more content.
“We’re super excited to be a part of Yahoo,” he said. “When we started talking to Yahoo, it was very clear that their vision of the future of mobile and mobile search was aligned with our future.”
Cameron Teitelman ‘10, CEO and founder of Stanford-affiliated incubator StartX, theorized that the acquisition was related to Yahoo’s role as a content provider.
“If you look at Yahoo’s strategy on the web, they were always a content portal,” Teitelman said. “They would show users content and have advertising. I think that Yahoo owning the homescreen of your phone is basically an analogue to their web strategy.”
Montoy-Wilson said that the StartX community played a role in their startup’s success and Teitelman added that the Aviate co-founders were big contributors to other founders within the incubator as well.
“They were at Google Play before, and were Android engineers,” Teitelman said. “They definitely understand mobile in and out.”
Yahoo and Aviate declined to comment on the price and specific terms of the acquisition.
Contact Nitish Kulkarni at nitishk2 ‘at’ stanford ‘dot’ edu.