Meet Wavii: The world’s longest-running stealth startup?

Over the course of the past few weeks, a couple people in the Seattle startup community have independently asked me the same question: Whatever happened to Wavii?

I first discovered the Adrian Aoun-led company back in July of 2010 — writing at the time that stealthy startup was working on new natural language technologies to help surface relevant content on the Web. At the time, Aoun didn’t want to say much about the Seattle company, which TechCrunch reported had already spurned a $10 million buyout offer from Yahoo.

Well, fast forward 16 months and Aoun still isn’t saying much about Wavii.

In an interview with GeekWire this week, Aoun said that they are “heads down” working hard on the company’s first product. The entrepreneur who previously worked at Microsoft and Fox Interactive Media stressed on two occasions during our interview that he’s “not looking for press.”

There’s stealth mode. And then there’s double secret stealth mode, a place where Wavii appears to be operating.

Wavii's home page offers little information about what the company is doing

Asked why the company has been existing in the netherworld of stealth for so long, Aoun pointed out that Wavii is trying to solve a complex problem.

“We are focused on tough technical challenges that really effect people’s lives, and a lot of that takes time,” he said.

He declined to explain what those challenges are, but through a recent guest post on TechCrunchLinkedIn bios and other online sources you can piece together a bit of what Wavii is trying to accomplish. Essentially, it is looking to solve information overload.

TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington, who got a peek at the service earlier this year and reported that Wavii had raised $2 million from angels, said that the company is “taking unstructured news and structuring it.” When Arrington wrote his story in January, he too noted how long the company had been operating in stealth mode.

“It continues to get a lot of behind the scenes buzz as the stealth startup to watch. And watch, and watch. They’ve been in private beta for some time,” Arrington wrote.

Of course, trying to sort through the ever-increasing cacophony of news and information is a big, juicy problem. And we’re looking forward to seeing what Wavii eventually unveils. We’re just not sure when we’ll get to see it.

Asked if the service might launch this year, Aoun declined to comment.

In some regards, Wavii could get tossed into the same batch as Seattle’s Evri, the Paul Allen-backed startup that’s developing ways to parse information into relevant news channels for consumers. In fact, one of Wavii’s former top engineers, Michele Banko, used to work at Evri. (According to Banko’s LinkedIn bio, she’s now working at Microsoft as a senior research software development engineer).

Wavii, for its part, appears to be growing. It just moved into a new office in Belltown a few months ago.

In our interview, I asked Aoun for the specific location. But he didn’t want to give an address for “security reasons.”

Once again, there’s stealth mode. And there’s “double secret” stealth mode.

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  • Ryan

    No way…Kiha was the world’s longest running stealth startup.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Christian-Bongiorno/100000845545061 Christian Bongiorno

      Whatever happened to kiha? in like, a year they came out of stealth and now they don’t even have a DNS entry. 

  • Ryan

    No way…Kiha was the world’s longest running stealth startup.

  • Ryan

    No way…Kiha was the world’s longest running stealth startup.

  • Anonymous

    “Double secret stealth” is the new “launch fast and iterate”.

    • http://twitter.com/bcrimmins Bob Crimmins

      … which often turns out to be the eventual “slow follower.”   Honestly, Adrian, I wish you guys great success but 16 months is an epoc in web time.  Hopefully you guys were too early and by the time you come out of hiding you’ll be just in time.  ;)  And I’m sure that Wavii doesn’t fall into the category of startups founded by ex-microsofties that apply the counter-productive lessons they learned at Microsoft to startups.  It’s not uncommon to see these companies spend 18 months developing some big, fat “system” in a cave… that still isn’t launched… and then eventually misses market fit… and is to fat to adapt quickly enough.  But as I said, I’m sure Wavii doesn’t fit into this category.

      When you’re ready to start announcing stuff, I hope you’ll come to a Poker 2.0 event and share your news with your fellow entrepreneurs.

    • http://twitter.com/bcrimmins Bob Crimmins

      … which often turns out to be the eventual “slow follower.”   Honestly, Adrian, I wish you guys great success but 16 months is an epoc in web time.  Hopefully you guys were too early and by the time you come out of hiding you’ll be just in time.  ;)  And I’m sure that Wavii doesn’t fall into the category of startups founded by ex-microsofties that apply the counter-productive lessons they learned at Microsoft to startups.  It’s not uncommon to see these companies spend 18 months developing some big, fat “system” in a cave… that still isn’t launched… and then eventually misses market fit… and is to fat to adapt quickly enough.  But as I said, I’m sure Wavii doesn’t fit into this category.

      When you’re ready to start announcing stuff, I hope you’ll come to a Poker 2.0 event and share your news with your fellow entrepreneurs.

  • Anonymous

    “Double secret stealth” is the new “launch fast and iterate”.

  • Anonymous

    “Double secret stealth” is the new “launch fast and iterate”.

  • Lothia

    Not sure if it is their old or new office, but it is located at 160 Virginia Street Seattle WA, close to the Moore theatre and Serious Pie. I am assuming they are on the third floor based on images and tree growth as well.

  • Lothia

    Not sure if it is their old or new office, but it is located at 160 Virginia Street Seattle WA, close to the Moore theatre and Serious Pie. I am assuming they are on the third floor based on images and tree growth as well.

  • Lothia

    Not sure if it is their old or new office, but it is located at 160 Virginia Street Seattle WA, close to the Moore theatre and Serious Pie. I am assuming they are on the third floor based on images and tree growth as well.