Yahoo (YHOO) picked up Tuesday where it left off in 2012, acquiring the team behind another mobile application, the third such move since Marissa Mayer arrived as CEO in July and one that mirrors Mayer's final Google (GOOG) effort.
Yahoo confirmed Tuesday that it had purchased Alike for an undisclosed sum, bringing to Yahoo a team that developed
a mobile application focused on suggesting nearby businesses a user may enjoy based on their previous preferences.
"The Alike team created an app that focuses on personalization -- using the restaurants and places you like to find the ones you'll love. We were very impressed by the team and their approach to building personalized experiences," Yahoo said in a statement Tuesday.
Mayer, who was employee No. 20 at Google and worked in a variety of positions at the Mountain View search leader, spent her last two years with the company working on Google's local efforts -- combining the acquisitions Zagat and Frommer's into different Google products to give users the ability to find info on nearby restaurants and other businesses as
well as opinions on those entities.
The Alike app for iPhone asked users to input their favorite destinations, then would tell them of similar businesses near to their current location. That type of offering is popular in Silicon Valley beyond Google, with San Francisco-based Yelp staking its reputation on user-generated reviews of local offerings, and Facebook recently offering up a search option that will help users find businesses popular with their friends.
The app was founded by Maria Zhang, previously of Microsoft and Zillow, who has said in interviews that the app is more founded on the idea of "Big Data" than local recommendations.
"We've painstakingly collected hundreds of terabytes of data and crafted complex algorithms to really understand the essence of a place. We compare these essences to discover similar places. The great thing about this big data approach is that there is no waiting for a critical mass of 500 of your friends or 10 million other people for the service to be useful," Zhang said in an interview with GeekWire in October.
Yahoo will use those abilities to build out its mobile team, a focus of Mayer's since arriving at Yahoo. In her first conference call with analysts in October, Mayer said that "at some point, at least half our technical workforce should be working on mobile ... because Yahoo should be a predominantly mobile company."
Just three days after that statement, Mayer backed it up with the purchase of Stamped, a similar app to Alike that allowed users to "stamp" restaurants and other businesses or media they enjoy for friends to see and share. The leaders of Stamped -- Robby Stein, who once worked for Mayer as a product manager at Google, Bart Stein and Kevin Palms -- were seen as the leaders of Yahoo's new mobile efforts, with Yahoo exec Adam Cahan saying in a blog post that the crew would "create a new center of mobile product development for Yahoo."
Alike joins OnTheAir, a San Francisco video-conferencing startup that Yahoo acquired in December, as mobile acquisitions that will work with the Stamped team to build Yahoo's mobile efforts.
The Alike app will no longer be supported by the Seattle-based group that created it, as they move to Yahoo's offices in Sunnyvale and San Francisco.
"We believe that distilled information, deeply personalized and made accessible anytime and anywhere, is what makes mobile experiences a part of our customers' daily lives," the Alike team said in a post on the company's website Tuesday.
Yahoo stock, which has struggled for years as the company has run through a series of CEOs, hit its highest price since 2008 for the second consecutive trading session Tuesday. At 11 a.m. Pacific time, less than two hours after the acquisition was announced, shares were trading for $21.34, a gain of 44 cents, or 2.1 percent.
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