AppDirect Buys Xendo, Adds Search Option Across Users’ Cloud Apps

In a move aimed at making life simpler for Web-based software subscribers, AppDirect is buying San Francisco startup Xendo, which allows app users to search through all their online programs at once for the files or facts they need.

With a Xendo search, users who have forgotten whether they stored a document in Box or Google Drive or Office 365 can root through their private files and track it down in one step, rather than laboriously searching through each program separately.

Xendo is the sixth in a series of acquisitions by cash-rich AppDirect, a San Francisco company whose software powers online marketplaces for Web-based apps. The marketplaces are operated by companies such as Internet service provider Comcast and office supply retailer Staples. With its acquisitions, AppDirect’s strategy is to bolster the additional services those app marketplaces can offer to software customers, who can face various snags when they move operations out of their own computers and onto the Web.

AppDirect was founded in 2009 by CEO Daniel Saks and co-CEO Nicolas Desmarais (pictured above, Saks at right.) In one of its first moves to augment its marketplaces, the company created an option for software subscribers to receive a single bill, no matter how many Web-based programs they purchased. AppDirect bought Ottawa, Canada-based billing services company jBilling in 2012.

In one of its recent acquisitions, AppDirect added IT support to the services offered by its customers through their app stores. In late January, AppDirect announced its acquisition of technical support provider Radialpoint.

By buying Xendo, under financial terms not disclosed, AppDirect is adding a search function to the cloud similar to those already available to people who keep their documents on their computer hard drives. For example, Mac owners can use the Finder function to do keyword searches of all their files stored in different programs installed in their computers.

Like the other companies AppDirect has acquired, Xendo will continue to operate as an independent unit. Users can still go to Xendo’s website directly to buy the search service, which currently works across 30 online applications including Salesforce, Evernote, Box, Google Drive, and Office 365. Users who subscribe to Xendo as a standalone product pay $9 per month.

Xendo co-founder and CEO Julian Gay says the search service will radically expand its scope by integrating with AppDirect’s e-commerce network, which facilitates sales of hundreds of Web-based app subscriptions to more than a million businesses. Operators of the app marketplaces can decide whether to charge for Xendo, or offer it as part of a package of services to companies that buy software from them.

Xendo has already been offering the search service through a partnership with AppDirect, and that relationship led to acquisition talks.

“There were so many synergies,” Gay says. “It made sense to join forces.”
Xendo was launched at TechCrunch Disrupt in 2014 and was part of the Alchemist Accelerator, which contributed seed-stage funding. Gay declined to disclose the startup’s fundraising total.

Although AppDirect has been buying software companies like Xendo, CEO Daniel Saks says AppDirect doesn’t intend to become a software seller to rival the products offered on the app e-commerce sites it powers.

“We wouldn’t buy a Box or Microsoft competitor,” Saks says. The AppDirect mission is to help businesses find, buy, and then smoothly manage their Web-based apps, he says. The company has plans to further develop Xendo, not only to spare employees time hunting for files they need, but also to provide a tool for collaboration within businesses.

Xendo’s search options already go beyond a simple key word search done by one employee across files she or he has created or downloaded. Employees can also search among their colleagues’ documents that have been shared with them.

“You can only search across information you have permission to access,” Gay says. Xendo piggybacks on the permissions granted to users by their employers, he says.

Xendo is also available as a Chrome extension, which enables users to do a simultaneous search of the Web and of their own files while using a search engine such as Google. The Xendo results appear next to the results from the traditional search engine, Gay says. Xendo has no interface with ordinary search engines, he says.

Xendo searches can be confined to Web-based apps, but users have the option to allow the Xendo search to reach into the files contained in their own computers and servers, Gay says.

All these capabilities naturally raise security questions in this age of high-profile hacks and insider threats. Gay says Xendo deploys many security safeguards, including encryption. “That was the key foundation that we put in place at the beginning,” he says. Xendo creates an index of the documents it scans, but doesn’t store the documents themselves. The search app integrates with the security software a business is already using, AppDirect says.

Xendo has a competitor in Cloudo, another cloud app search engine sold as a Chrome extension. AppDirect says Xendo is integrated with twice the number of apps as Cloudo, and is certified as “Enterprise Ready” by the Skyhigh Networks CloudTrust program.

Bernadette Tansey is Xconomy's San Francisco Editor. You can reach her at btansey@xconomy.com. Follow @Tansey_Xconomy

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