In Silicon Valley’s venture-backed startup culture, investors have one unspoken rule: we don’t care about profits but you must grow revenue … or else.
It looks like a startup called Quixey could be caught by the rule.
Quixey was founded in 2009 as a search engine of sorts for mobile apps. It involved a technology called “deep linking” which lets mobile apps link to parts of one another without launching the app.
Now, Quixey’s young founder CEO Tomer Kagan is stepping down as CEO to take on the chief strategy officer role. The board has hired Mark Lazar as the new CEO. Lazer has been a CEO of over 10 companies, the company says, and his best known company is one called LoopNet which went public in 2006.
Quixey was missing internal sales targets, several sources told Recode’s Mark Bergen. In February, it lost other top execs, including its CTO and COO, Bergen reports, and it promoted a new CTO, Rajat Mukherjee, who hailed from Yahoo and cut his teeth at Google.
In 2012 Quixey was on the rise, led by its then 28-year-old cofounder, Kagan, who raised over $24 million from Valley bigwigs like Maynard Webb and Google chairman Eric Schmidt’s fund, Innovation Endeavours. About a year ago, Quixey raised another $60 million led by Alibaba with participation of investors such as SoftBank, Goldman Sachs, and GGV Capital, at about a $600 million valuation.
Kagen was known as a “futurist,” meaning he envisions the future and works with scientists to make it come true, he once told Business Insider. He was on the board of the Machine Intelligence Research Institute (formerly the Singularity Institute) and worked with the National Science Foundation’s futurist project (known as Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation or EFRI).
He saw a future where so many objects were run by apps, that an app search engine could be the next Google.
Today, there are a growing number of tools to do deep linking, including one offered by Google, and Quixey shifted its focus to in-app advertising.
Employees on Glassdoor have had some harsh things to say about the startup: 45% would recommend the company to a friend and 58% approved of Kagen as CEO. As one employee explained, “Quixey lacks focus. We’re trying to do a million things at once.”