At 29, Quixey cofounder Tomer Kagan is well-known in the tech industry as a “futurist” meaning he envisions the future and works with scientists and others to make it come true.
He’s a board member of the Machine Intelligence Research Institute and works with the National Science Foundation’s futurist project.
His vision is that everything in our lives will be powered by software, even things like personalised food and travelling hospitals, and people will interact with the world through mobile devices.
But before you can use all of these apps, you have to find them, hence Quixey makes an app discovery search engine. It currently powers about 100 million searches a month and is used by companies like Microsoft, Sprint, and Ask.com.
His work as futurist is proving to be a profitable edge for his company. On Thursday, Quixey announced that it had landed a huge, $US50 million round of funding lead by the Alibaba Group.
Alibaba is the “Amazon” of China, the largest Internet ecommerce site in that country. Google chairman Eric Schmidt’s fund Innovation Endeavours also contributed (it had previously invested in Quixey). So did Atlantic Bridge, Translink Capital, US Venture Partners, and Chinese VC WI Harper.
Quickey has raised $US74.2 million to date. We caught up with Kagen to ask him about his company.
Business Insider: Did your work as a futurist help him you nab this funding?
Tomer Kagan: When we’re talking to investors we obviously talk to them about the future plans for Quixey and how we see the market 5, 10 and 20 years down the line. Alibaba and Quixey share the idea of thinking very long-term.
The fact that we have so many smart people backing us is proof they believe in what we’re saying. It’s humbling and exciting.
BI: What’s the advantage of being funded by Alibaba? Will it help you with the China app market?
TK: Alibaba is the platform for all commerce. Quixey is how people access apps and functionality.
Next year, 95% the world’s population will have mobile access. By 2016, the mobile Internet will become the dominant form of Internet access, as people use 1.5 billion smart mobile devices. Quixey is at the epicentre of this brave new world, and Alibaba’s investment will ensure that we continue to expand globally and continue to keep a global focus.