Why We Invested in Snips

For the last few years my partners and I have had a thesis that mobile search as we know it is completely broken. The desktop experience of typing search terms into a text box and getting back lists of links does not translate to the mobile use case.

Two years ago a few of us sat in our old Eniac NYC office brainstorming what mobile search should be like. Some of the ideas we came up with were:

  • Results should be apps not landing pages.
  • Needs to deep link into relevant content within each app.
  • Must be contextually aware. Surfacing recommendations based on things like location, time of day, who the user is with, the user’s schedule and habits…
  • The system must move towards anticipatory computing — predicting what the user wants and surfacing the right recommendations to them at the right time.

Developing a system to do the above is obviously much easier said than done. We’d need a team with very deep AI, machine learning and NLP chops to pull this off in any kind of useful way. Over the next two years we saw a bunch of startups that were attacking this area but none had the combination of team and vision to have a serious chance at cracking it. Then in the spring of 2015 we found them..in of all places Paris.

We invested in Snips for three reasons:

  1. Their company vision is fully aligned with ours. Interestingly we seem to have come to the same vision from different directions. If you read CEO Rand Hindi’s post about their vision you won’t see anything about search. Thats because unlike us they weren’t trying to fix search, they were making smartphones context-aware and intuitive. Search is just one piece of the puzzle.
  2. They have a world class team across the needed disciplines: AI, NLP, machine learning, data science.
  3. They can leverage the extensive pool of european PHD level talent in the areas needed to build this system. For a US based start up to build a team like Snips is building would be next to impossible, given their stage. But in Europe with its wealth of talent and few tech giants, building a world class team as a relatively young start up is possible.

Over the coming months Snips will start releasing products that begin to build towards their vision of making technology disappear. I’m excited that this vision happens to align with the vision of a few guys in 2013 in a makeshift office in Chelsea.