Daniel Gross’s Greplin Is One Smart Search Engine

The precocious Israeli coder is co-founder of a startup building
the one search box to rule them all—and to organize your entire
online life

By Douglas MacMillan and Barrett W. Sheridan
     Sept. 1 (Bloomberg BusinessWeek) -- A few years ago, Daniel
Gross was on his way to a party in his native Israel when he
pulled out his smartphone to look up the address. The invitation
could have been buried in his e-mail, on Facebook, or within some
other app. The prolonged phone fumbling that followed led him to
an idea: What if there were a simple way to search it all? “I’m
putting more and more stuff online,” says Gross, 20. “There
should be a product that can just give me one search box for it.”
     Greplin, the company Gross co-founded last year after moving
to San Francisco, aims to fill this void. Users can plug in their
credentials for Gmail, Facebook, LinkedIn, and a host of other
popular Web services, and create a search engine capable of
sifting through all manner of personal documents, contacts, and
calendar items. It’s like Google for your private life. “What
Google has is a really, really big book with a really big index,”
says Robby Walker, 27, who left a job at the search giant to
co-found Greplin with Gross. “What we have is this massive
library full of books, each of which is only accessible by one
     Greplin has a “freemium” model: The basic service is gratis,
but if users want to search business apps such as Salesforce they
must pay $5 per month or $50 per year. An iPhone app released in
August adds a “suggested search” function to predict what people
want based on their physical location and the date and time. When
you’re on the way to a business lunch, the app will guess where
you’re going based on your calendar appointments and
automatically offer up the LinkedIn profile of the person you’re
     Gross began programming at age 10, encouraged by his father,
a computer science teacher at Jerusalem-area high schools, and a
few years later he joined ringtone company Vringo as one of its
youngest employees. At 18, Gross’s plan to become a technologist
in the Israeli Army got sidetracked when, on a whim, he flew to
California to pitch an idea to startup incubator YCombinator. His
confidence impressed Paul Graham, YCombinator’s founder, who
accepted him on the spot. “He had the poise of someone much
older,” says Graham. “He seemed like a 30-year-old in an
18-year-old’s body.”
     Gross stayed in San Francisco and has become one of the most
connected young entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley. While Greplin’s
nine other employees spend most days coding into the wee hours,
the precocious chief executive officer takes meetings with top
execs at Google, Facebook, and elsewhere. Those alliances are
already paying off. When Greplin users had trouble searching for
data on their Facebook profiles, Gross shot an e-mail to Bret
Taylor, Facebook’s chief technology officer and an angel investor
in the search startup. That weekend, Taylor paid a personal visit
to Greplin’s office to fix the problem himself. “The dude will
actually write code for us,” says Gross.

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