Ouriel Ohayon is famous among French entrepreneurs as the former writer of TechCrunch France, but he is an accomplished entrepreneur and VC in his own right, who is now based in Israel. He recently left his plush VC gig to start a new company called AppsFire. I sat down with Ohayon on his last trip to Paris to talk about AppsFire.
AppsFire is a simple app that helps you share iPhone app recommendations with your friends. AppsFire has all the trappings of the latest startups, including its own short URL http://getap.ps/ and an API that will come soon, Ohayon tells me. Android and BlackBerry versions are also forthcoming.
AppsFire wants to solve an important problem: there are over 100,000 iPhone apps, and the iPhone app store alone isn’t enough to help discover all the useful apps out there. Meanwhile the iPhone app store is now a billion dollar market and app stores are sprouting up all around numerous devices and platforms.
The company also recently launched PasteFire, an app that lets you share links and other items between your iPhone and your computer — copy something on your iPhone and you can paste it on your computer, and vice versa. Ohayon tells me that PasteFire is superior to other similar services because PasteFire is smart. For example, if you put a phone number into PasteFire, it will recognize it as such and prompt you to call or add to contacts; if you put an address, you’ll be able to look it up on Google Maps, etc.
For Ohayon, the grand idea behind AppsFire is to help apps in every app store become viral and, in turn, become the center of distribution of mobile apps. Ohayon told me his business model is “secret” but it’s not hard to see how such a thing could be monetized. If AppsFire pulls it off, it could be a very powerful service.
Both AppsFire and PasteFire are part of this grand masterplan. Ohayon wouldn’t tell me what the link is between them, but again, it’s not hard to tell: PasteFire suggests actions — apps — based on the links or items you share in it. This would significantly help AppsFire boost the virality of useful apps.
Ohayon was bullish about the future of app stores in general — not just on the iPhone and other mobile devices, but on cars, fridges, etc. His goal is for AppsFire to help spread apps virally within all of the app stores that exist today and will in the future. He’s also bullish about the future of his own company — when I asked him if he was afraid that Apple would copy them, he said he’d welcome it.
He’s not the only one who believes in the future of his idea: AppsFire recently raised a big angel round from first-tier French investors including Marc Simoncini (founder and CEO of Euro online dating leader Match.com), Jacques-Antoine Granjon (cofounder of vente-privee.com), Xavier Niel (cofounder of Iliad, a huge French ISP) and Jean-David Blanc (founder of allocine.com and also investor in Jack Dorsey’s Square).
If Ohayon can bring about his powerful vision of boosting mobile apps’ virality, AppsFire is clearly a company to watch.