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The Green Sheet Online Edition

November 23, 2015 • Issue 15:11:02

The Mobile Buzz:
Mobile search engine market heats up

Mountain View, Calif.-based tech startup Relcy hopes to capture a piece of the mobile search engine market long dominated by Google Inc. The team behind the tech venture, which started developing its graph linking technology in 2013, hails from LinkedIn, Facebook, Apple Inc., Yahoo! and other tech-sector businesses.

After raising $9 million in funding from Khosla Ventures and Sequoia Capital, Relcy launched an iOS app in October 2015 that offers a mobile-centric approach to index, link and rank content across apps and the Internet. Powered by the company's proprietary linked knowledge-graph technology, the search engine has the ability to map hundreds of millions of entities to create an interconnected web of entities, attributes and actions, Relcy noted.

"Relcy won't just find what a user is looking for; it will make inferences and add contextual data to provide an even more holistic search result," the company stated. Instead of receiving search engine results that display disparate weblinks and pages typical of most search engines, Relcy returns appropriately bundled results.

For example, if conducting a search for "Chinese food," the mobile user would see a list of nearby Chinese restaurants with links to reviews, images, delivery service availability and other relevant information gleaned from broad sources. According to Relcy, it effectively condenses five or six searches in multiple apps into a single, comprehensive search.

Eliminating the silo effect

The motivation behind Relcy's entry into the search market stems from its belief that the market is long overdue for an overhaul. Midyear statistics from Google revealed that over 50 percent of all web searches today are initiated on mobile devices. With approximately 1.5 billion mobile devices in circulation globally, being able to deliver on-demand search results efficiently has its challenges. One problem facing the mobile sphere is executing search queries in the first place. According to Relcy, the average smartphone has about 119 apps installed, so searching for information using PC-era tools in this type of environment is not only cumbersome but time-consuming.

"Today, mobile search is still based on an outdated desktop search mentality," said Keith Rabois, Investment Partner at Khosla Ventures. "Relcy's mobile-first approach allows people to more effectively find what they are looking for without having to switch between apps." To bridge that gap, Relcy deep links users' favorite apps so that pages within mobile apps are immediately accessible.

"Apps have been siloed for too long," said Rohit Satapathy, Chief Executive Officer of Relcy. "Relcy is here to change that. Through its simple, beautiful UI and lightning-fast search abilities, Relcy is revolutionizing search and bringing it to the mobile era. We live in a mobile-centric world, so we are thrilled to bring a mobile-centric search engine to the general public."

Dealing with Goliath

Relcy will face an uphill battle against well-entrenched Google, whose search engine upgrade earlier this year caused many merchants to mobile optimize websites to preserve coveted positions in its search engine rankings.

And Relcy is not the only challenger. Last year, San Francisco-based startup Vurb initiated an $8 million Series A funding round for it deep-linking mobile search engine. To help developers build deep-links into their own apps, Palo Alto, Calif.-based Branch Metrics earlier this year raised $15 million in Series A funding to advance its mobile-linking platform.

"Four years ago, just 3 percent of Internet use was through a mobile device; today the total is nearly 40 percent," said Alex Austin, co-founder and CEO of Branch. "As native application use is the preferred mobile experience, Branch links make the native app transitions much smoother for the end user and more like the familiar experience of web page transitions."

Pages within the app – news articles, photos, messages, product pages, and more – are a click away, he noted. Branch links also allow companies to track sharing activity, create smart referral systems, and generate insight for marketing campaigns.

With venture capitalists like Vinod Khosla backing Relcy, the future looks promising for this new breed of mobile search players. Khosla co-founded Sun Microsystems before becoming a venture capitalist and purchasing Google at a time when the search engine was but a concept. Companies like theses are expected to enrich the mobile experience in ways that will truly benefit merchants and end users. end of article

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