Yahoo Goes Shopping in Seattle, Acquiring Alike Team

New Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has made no secret of her ambition to remake Yahoo into a company with a strong mobile streak. Today, she’s picked up a Seattle startup to help with that mission.

Alike, a small mobile-app startup that specializes in data about places, has been purchased by the pioneering Internet company and will be joining Yahoo in California. The price wasn’t disclosed, but the app is being shut down, a sure sign that Yahoo was shopping for engineering talent.

That’s not a surprise, since Yahoo doesn’t need to buy a bunch of users—and Alike wasn’t boasting a massive user count anyway. What the startup did have was expertise in handling data about what makes places unique.

The Alike app allowed users to put their favorite coffee shop, for instance, into its search engine and get recommendations for other, similar spots. It’s one of many, many apps out there trying to perfect some kind of “local discovery” function that will get huge numbers of people using their smartphones to navigate around the real world.

Mayer has racked up a small handful of acquisitions since taking over Yahoo, so the Alike group is in good company. The startup was led by CEO Maria Zhang, a veteran of Zillow and Microsoft. I couldn’t find much evidence of outside investing in the startup, but Zhang says Alike did raise some money “from angel investors, family and friends.”

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