Two-year-old AI-powered news on demand app Pipes announced today that they have been acquired by Trybeca, a marketing analytics platform. In the wake of the stiff hustle unfolding among the vast array of publications in the news and content curation space, the young company took the strategic decision of joining forces with Trybeca to scale and expand their gamut.
Founded in 2014, Pipes is an app-only content aggregator that delivers personalised news based on the user’s niche interests. Using algorithms based on artificial intelligence and NLP, the app learns the user’s consumption patterns and tailors news content.
On the thought that went into the app, Vinay Anand, CEO, says, “We wondered: if one wanted to track the lead up to the General Elections, 2014, which Narendra Modi eventually won, how would you do that? How would a 14-year-old Manchester United fan track his favourite club? Pipes was our answer to all that.”
The app mimics how humans think, and learns from their reading patterns without explicitly asking users for inputs. Vinay explains, “For example, if I was reading something about Tim Cook, Pipes would recommend stories and interests around, ‘Apple Watch’, ‘iPhone’ or ‘Apple’ itself.” The app even summarises articles on-the-go through technology, without any human editors.
In its two-year journey, the app clocked many milestones. With nearly 2.50,000 installs, Pipes even raised close to $200,000 via angels in a seed round.
Traction was impressive too — an online campaigns called ‘demo apple watch’ got 8.5 lakh views in six days, with eyeballs garnered from 212 to 214 countries.
While the product received great feedback and numbers looked promising, they were experiencing a slight slowdown as a deluge of content aggregators ensued. “Our growth began to slow down with bigger players like Facebook who with Instant Articles and an updated feed really began to dominate the space. Closer to home, InShorts was also proving to be a bigger player,” says Vinay, of the circumstances in which they took this game-changing decision, the discussions for which began late last year.
“It was at this time, through our conversations with VCs and a lot of industry experts that we realised that our technology was still very relevant and had great B2B play. So, we’re stoked to be a part of the Trybeca family,” he says.
Meanwhile, the management back at Trybeca —staunch believers in Digital India — want to strengthen their online presence using Pipes. “We are very excited to announce the acquisition of Pipes. We believe the technology that the team at Pipes has built will be particularly useful for what we are trying to do with brands and influencers online. Having validated our model offline, we believe this acquisition will help us make the move online. We believe the team’s experience with content creation and deployment will give us the head start we are looking for,” says Pooja Sharma, CEO, Trybeca.
The deal will be consummated in cash as well as stock. The app will be pulled off the market as Trybeca is looking to take the technology behind Pipes further. They will be employing Pipes’ technology and not the app per se. “They will be using the AI, image recognition technology, and NLP/ neural network that we built. The technology will be scaled and worked on significantly,” reveals Vinay.
The product and development team at Pipes, including the founders, will be joining Trybeca. Vinay will lead new initiatives within the company, while his co-founder, Siddharth Goliya, will be cashing out of this one. Pipes was their fourth venture together. Trybeca and the old-timers at Pipes are looking to release the online version of their product closer to the end of this year.