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Yahoo Buys Mobile Startup With Big Search Chops

Yahoo Buys Mobile Startup With Big Search Chops

Earlier today Yahoo and Jybe announced that the latter was being acquired by the former. Jybe, which I had not heard of previously, is described by Yahoo as “a personalized recommendation company founded with the vision to help people find the things they love to do based on what’s trending in their social circles.”

It sounds like a “social search” or “social discovery” app. Indeed, all five Jybe team members are former search people — and former Yahoo employees:

As part of this acquisition, we’re welcoming an extremely talented group of engineers and data scientists who will join Yahoo!’s platform organization, focused on targeting and personalization. This will be a “coming home” for the team — all five are former Yahoos. Arnab Bhattacharjee was the VP of Yahoo! Search Technology (YST), one of the most well respected engineering and platforms groups in the company. He returns together with former key members of the YST and Hadoop teams — Tim Converse, Christian Kunz, Sameer Paranjpye, and Karthik Krishnamurthy.

In addition, Tim Comverse helped start “semantic search” engine Powerset, which was later acquired by Microsoft. Here’s how Jybe described itself on LinkedIn:

Get smart, personalized, social recommendations for Restaurants, Movies and Books – while on the go. Jybe combines your interests with what’s hot in your social circles and around the web to help you quickly find the best things to eat, watch and read. Then as you like or dislike items, your recommendations will be become more refined and personalized. Additionally, view what your friends like and find recommendations from people similar to you. Through Jybe for iPhone, you can see restaurant menus, make reservations, find specific dishes, check movie showtimes and buy tickets, download interesting new books and add movies that you discover to your Netflix Queue.

These are key “acqu-hires” for Yahoo — the Jybe app will disappear — who probably will go on to work on personalization, mobile and search-UI-related initiatives. These “hires” will probably also lead to others and continue to help restore Yahoo’s credibility as a place for engineers and developers to work.

Ultimately the credit for what might be called the return of Yahoo’s “cool” and its hiring turn around (even though it has come in part through acquisitions) has to go to CEO Marissa Mayer and the “product gravitas” she’s almost single-handedly brought back to the company.