Yeti, the so-called Tinder for places, has just been acquired by a group of private investors, according to the company. Yeti’s CEO and co-founder, Alex Capecelatro, will be shifting his focus to a new venture, but will continue to work with the company as a strategic adviser. Andy Mazzarella, a serial entrepreneur with 30 years of experience in tech and finance, will be taking over as Yeti’s CEO.
The private investors, which include one of Hyphos’s (Yeti’s parent company) largest investors, Jim Armstrong, a Managing Director at March Capital Partners, are looking to continue on with the original mission of the app Capecelatro said.
“[Yeti] needs significant capital to get to the next level. We had been approached by a few of the larger Silicon Valley tech companies about an acquisition and decided to explore that option.” During that phase, Capecelatro said it became clear that the product he had helped build would be dismantled if it were acquired by a major player and he also started chatting with Tim Gill, the founder of Quark, about starting an AI venture which sounds like it caused him to grow reticent about being acqui-hired.
“Selling Yeti to a big name tech company would have been nice for my resume but not how I wanted to spend the next 4+ years of my life,” Capecelatro said. “For a period [Gill] was going to acquire Yeti and we were going to build it around the AI engine but when we were approached by the investment group about a sale all the pieces came together.”
Capecelatro founded Yeti’s parent company, Hyphos, in 2011 and began working on At the Pool, a people discovery app that helped users find friends to activities with. At the Pool would eventually turn into Yeti as Capecelatro and the rest of the team saw users engaging with the app differently than they had foreseen.
“As the product grew it became clear people were using the app to find local information more than connect with people,” Capecelatro said. “For example, instead of finding someone to rock climb with, our members were discussing the best local rock climbing gyms and bouldering spots.”
The app has garnered users in over 120 countries who have used the app to discover cool local places to check out.
Central to Yeti’s success has been its recommendation engine which adapts to users interests as they swipe on places they’re interested in visiting. Capecelatro said he will be leaving Yeti and joining Gill to found a voice-controlled home automation interface, Josh.ai.
While Capecelatro is leaving his role as chief of the company to start his new venture, he said he is still very excited to see where the new owners and leadership take Yeti.
“I love that Yeti will continue, our users won’t be forgotten about, and new capital and talent will be injected. While the product is just over a year old, it’s part of an effort that’s been building over the last 5 years. It’s time to bring in a new perspective to take things to the next level.”