Yahoo snags discovery app Zofari to boost local search


Affectionately described as a "Pandora for places," Zofari's acquisition seemed to have attracted less attention when the deal was announced last week. Zofari uses natural language processing, machine learning, and third party data to collect information that matches up the user with places which the user may find interesting.

The financial terms of the acquisition have not been revealed. On Zofari's official site, the company confirmed that four of its employees are joining Yahoo. They are identified as Oliver Su, Shahzad Aziz, Jason Kobilka and Nate Weinstein.

"After meeting some of the amazing folks on the Yahoo Search team and hearing about their vision, the decision for our team to join Yahoo was an easy one," said in the announcement. "We can't talk about what we're working on yet, but needless to say we are very, very excited."

In order for Zofari to get off the ground, the company had to raise some funds. It had successfully raised $150,000 from family and friends.

Zofari's goal is to deliver impressive local recommendations at the soonest time possible. It also wanted the world to become an easier place to explore. With inspiration coming from what Pandora did for music and what Netflix did for movies, the company believes that they have created a beautiful and powerful recommendation app that enables users to learn new places through previously made searches on familiar and personally liked restaurants, cafes and bars.

Zofari has also created some fantastic contextualization technology. This enables the app to look at a place and extract information about it. It transforms bland attributes such as dollar signs and ratings into familiar concepts that people could utilize when making real-world decisions.

Yahoo's core advertising business is banked on search. This means that the company's interest in acquiring a team that focuses on local mobile search shouldn't be surprising at all. The acquisition came at a time when the company's display ad sales, which is a significant financial metric, slid down to 7 percent last quarter.

Yahoo is scrambling to rebuild traffic and web influence under CEO Marissa Mayer. Under her leadership, the company has acquired a number of mobile-related companies. Some of these would include Stamped (a social mobile review app), OnTheAir (an app for video chat hangouts), Propeld (creator of Alike which made social recommendations for local businesses), and Tumblr, its first major acquisition.

"We're thrilled to welcome the team to Yahoo, where they will join our growing Search organization and continue to build amazing discovery experiences," said by a Yahoo spokesperson in a statement.

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