Vurb Is Loopy Sufficient To Battle Google

Google Search was not constructed for cellular. It’s all about lists of net pages, however the small display is dominated by apps. That’s why if Google launched at the moment, it’d look rather a lot like Vurb…which did launch at the moment.

Vurb is a cellular search engine that pulls information from partnered apps like Yelp and Rotten Tomatoes, and deeplinks you out to apps like Uber and Google Maps. Moderately than ship you clicking by way of hyperlinks, it cobbles collectively important content material and contextual options into saveable, shareable, actionable playing cards. You might plan an entire dinner-and-a-film night time with out ever typing or going again to your homescreen.

Whether or not difficult Google on search is courageous or simply delusional, solely time will inform, however Vurb is unquestionably one of the audacious startups I’ve seen these days. And since buyers love huge, dangerous Vurb has $10 million in firepower Redpoint Ventures and a few A-Record angels.

What’s encouraging is that Vurb manifests within the west a development that China is already demonstrating: the way forward for cellular lies in uniting fragmented performance from throughout the app ecosystem right into a centralized hub.

Vurb Is Crazy Enough To Fight Google

A Portal For Cellular

On the internet, Google’s conduit mannequin labored advantageous. All the things was an indexable web site that served many features, and Google might use PageRank to ship you to the suitable one. It might present an inventory of hyperlinks, and allow you to pop open a number of browser tabs you might shortly change between and even present concurrently. It was straightforward to multi-process. It looked for info, you aggregated the solutions.

Cellular is totally different. Info is trapped in siloed, single-function apps and walled gardens. Every little thing is being unbundled. App discovery within the crowded shops is a multitude. Opening a number of tabs is a chore and so is switching between them since you’ll be able to solely view separately. Multi-tasking is clumsy.

Vurb Is Crazy Enough To Fight Google

All of the app-switching it’s a must to do to plan an evening out throughout fragmented, unbundled cellular apps


That’s why Vurb needs to combination the solutions for you.

It has some robust position fashions out east. As Andreessen Horowitz companion Benedict Evans detailed, Chinese language apps WeChat (social) and Baidu Maps (location) are thriving by “bundling a number of providers into one app”.

Associated Movies

Evans explains that “This modifications the layer of aggregation” from a telephone’s homescreen launcher to a single, multi-function app. This relieves customers from discovering, downloading, and opening each app they want info from.

Vurb needs to be the portal for cellular. Yahoo and AOL reborn to return order to the appsphere after The Nice Unbundling.

 zero To one hundred Actual Fast

Vurb’s ascent to grow to be a reliable challenger to Google search began in 2011. By 2013 it had raised round $2 million from Charles River VenturesCrunchFund (began by TechCrunch’s founder), Atlas Enterprise, and DCVC, plus angels like Max Levchin (PayPal, Drew Houston (Dropbox), and Naval Ravikant (AngelList). When Vurb got here out of stealth, it took the grand prize within the TechCrunch Disrupt NY Battlefield 2014. That clout helped it increase $eight million extra led by Redpoint.

Since then, Vurb’s been testing and pulling in customers of its waitlist. To give attention to cellular, the startup scrapped its full-featured net model. “Cellular search is completely broad open, as a result of the whole lot is gravitating in the direction of utilization of apps” Vurb founder Bobby Lo tells me. His aim turned to find out “How can we create a extra cohesive cellular expertise round discovering, planning, and sharing info?”

Vurb Is Crazy Enough To Fight Google

The Vurb group, together with CEO Bobby Lo (second from left) have fun their TechCrunch Disrupt Battlefield 2014 win

Google has it’s personal plan repair search, however it has to hold all its historic design baggage. So relatively than utterly redesign search, it’s targeted on augmenting it with contextual strategies by means of Google Now. For pulling in immutable information and actionable information out of your different Google merchandise like Gmail and Calendar, Now works fairly nicely.

However Google Now’s editorially pushed, so it should take time for its people to discover ways to ship content material concerning the lengthy-tail of the online. It additionally doesn’t handle saving and sharing searches. Whereas Googling from residence felt lack a pure solo expertise, however on the go together with cellular, search must be social.

Unlocking Cellular Search For Everybody

At the moment, Vurb opens its iOS app to the world with specific help for searches of Locations (eating places, landmarks, shops), Films, TV, Video, and Music. Occasions and purchasing are two extra verticals it plans to assault quickly.

Right here’s a run-by way of of what you are able to do with Vurb.

Vurb Is Crazy Enough To Fight Google


From the homescreen, you’ll be able to search throughout all Vurb’s verticals or swipe to start out searching in a selected one. Say you looked for a film like 50 Shades Of Gray. In-line on the search outcomes, you’ll see IMDB, Rotten Tomatoes, and MetaCritic scores making an attempt to warn you the movie is terrible. Faucet by means of anyhow, and also you’ll get a full, wealthy media card with particulars concerning the movie, showtimes, current information, forged and crew information, video trailers, evaluations, and choices to deeplink to pages concerning the film in different apps.

Faucet by means of showtimes and you may bounce into Fandango to purchase tickets. As soon as Vurb is aware of what theater you’re going to, it might contexually supply up strategies of close by eating places, from fancy-pants bistros to holes-in-the-wall. Every eatery’s Vurb card can present critiques, an choice to e-book by way of OpenTable, and deeplinks into Uber and Lyft to immediately name you a experience with the restaurant pre-populated because the vacation spot.

Vurb Is Crazy Enough To Fight Google

All alongside the best way, any card you come throughout may be saved right into a “Deck” for later reference, and every card or deck might be shortly shared with pals. A swipe left reveals a pal selector that delivers cellular net hyperlinks to the cardboard or deck, plus an in-line picture of it, so Vurb helps individuals with out its app too.

Recipients may even like or touch upon plans despatched to them to assist finalize an evening in town. Shoot buddies a deck with a number of films and eating places, and you’ve got a full night time laid out. Vurb hopes individuals will comply with associates, tastemakers, and influencers and think about the to take a look at decks of suggestions they’ve made public.

The Age Of Context

Lo beams that “It’s very totally different than conventional search with 10 blue hyperlinks.” He is aware of it’s nonetheless an extended shot, however is glad to take a swing for the fences. He says “VCs don’t need a 3X return. They need a 100X return in any other case this can be a failure as an funding.”

Vurb Is Crazy Enough To Fight Google

To return that cash, Vurb has loads of alternatives. With search outcomes comes the choice for sponsored placement. And with builders pouring money into app set up advertisements on platforms like Fb, Vurb might cost to recommend them for various duties.

Lo concludes that the Web began with the age of browsing the online by way of portals to browse one’s solution to info, earlier than evolving to look the place we went to seek out info. Now Vurb needs to catalyze the subsequent part, the age of context, the place info involves you.