Apple pays $40m. for Israeli 21-year-old’s app

Cue, a ‘personal assistant’ app developed by yeshiva graduate Daniel Gross and his partner, could boost Apple’s fortunes as it competes with Google

Daniel Gross (Photo credit: Courtesy)
Daniel Gross (Photo credit: Courtesy)

Cue, a personal assistant app co-founded by Israeli entrepreneur Daniel Gross, shut down over the weekend — the result of Apple buying the company for an estimated $40 million.

Gross founded Cue (formerly Greplin) together with entrepreneur Robbie Walker, raising $4.7 million in 2011 from various VCs and angels, including Sequoia Capital, Lerer Ventures, and SV Angel. In 2012, the company raised an additional $10 million.

Gross was born in the Katamon neighborhood of Jerusalem and is a graduate of the Horev yeshiva and an alumnus of the prestigious Eli pre-military academy. He was set to enlist in the IDF, but on a pre-army trip to San Francisco several years ago he got caught up in Silicon Valley’s start-up fever and joined a program run by Y-Combinator, an investment “finishing school” for start-ups seeking to break into Silicon Valley’s investment troughs. Y-Combinator’s “Demo Days” are considered major events in Silicon Valley; since 2005, they have funded over 550 start-ups.

Cue linked user accounts belonging to a registered individual and ran a query search for keywords within those applications or accounts, allowing uses to check social media accounts on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts without having to sign in and check each one individually.

Pundits in Silicon Valley speculated over the weekend that Apple decided to buy Cue in order to bolster the iPhone’s personal assistant features. In iOS7, the personal assistant function presents a user’s complete schedule at the flick of a finger. Apple plans to expand the assistant’s functionality to work more smoothly with Siri, its voice-driven command system.

Google Now, which is built into Android phones, already has much of the functionality of Cue for users of Gmail, Google Maps, Waze, and other Google services; Google Now includes all that information seamlessly in its personal assistant, while Apple’s does not include mail or location information. Cue parses the web, including Gmail and other Google services, as well as Twitter, Facebook, and all other registered social media accounts, for its personal assistant information.

Cue has several dozen employees, all of whom will now be working for Apple, reports said.

Gross has not been back to Israel since emigrating to the US, as he is subject to arrest by military police for skipping out on his IDF service.

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