Google acquires Clever Sense, maker of Alfred

Nathan Pensky · December 13, 2011 · Short URL:

Clever Sense, makers of restaurant recommendation app Alfred, courted by both Groupon and Google

Google, in all its wisdom and might, announced Wednesday its purchase of Clever Sense, the makers of a mobile restaurant recommendation app called Alfred that was released last month on iOS and only last week on Android. Terms were not disclosed.

The app works sort of like "Pandora for restaurants," where the user enters restaurant preferences and receives customized recommendations. Alfred, which Clever Sense calls your personal robot, will then learn your likes and dislikes, much like Pandora learns the music you like. Of course, it requires the user to input a lot of this information and to rate the suggestions that Aflred makes in order for the system to get smarter.

It was only last week, that was when Clever Sense was in talks with Groupon for a possible partnership with them, though now it seems Google made the better offer. So what is Clever Sense's secret, and why does everyone seem to be clamoring over them?

For starters, according to its website it's more than just an app-maker, but a "curation platform," the goal of which is to sift through and analyze the myriad streams of online data to determine which is most useful to yield real offline results.

This is accomplished through a two-fold tech process, involving its Extraction Engine, which collects online data, and its Serendipity Engine, which applies this data according to user specifications. Similar dining recommendation apps include Ness and Nosh,

A Google spokesperson explained to VatorNews its interest in Clever Sense's Alfred in terms of "the Clever Sense team being at the forefront" of the recommendation engine game. The Google rep also spoke of combining the technology and expertise of Clever Sense with Google's products.

Founded in 2008 by two Stanford PhDs Babak Pahlavan and Nima Asgharbeygi, Clever Sense has received $1.6 million in funding to date, from investors Bobby Yazdani, RONA Holdings LLC, Sanjog Gad, Safa Rashtchy, and Larry Braitman. 

Google isn't saying anything more about how it will incorporate Clever Sense into its ever-growing empire, though one report has the company incorporating with Google Places. Clever Sense will continue to function independently from Google, for now.

Google has acquired over 150 different companies, at a rate of about one per week since 2010, the most recent of which include restaurant review company Zagat for $151 million in October, mobile device manufacturer Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion in August, and daily deal company Daily Deals for $114 million in September.

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