Whitepages CEO Alex Algard will also be CEO of the new entity, which employs 40 and will work out of Whitepages’ office in Seattle.
Algard told GeekWire that Hiya, previously known as Caller ID & Block, became a big enough business to where it could become viable on its own.
“It’s really all about focus on a business that increasingly has fewer synergies with Whitepages,” he said.
While Whitepages, founded 19 years ago, is centered around a website and is domestically-focused, Hiya is entirely on mobile and has a worldwide footprint in nearly 200 countries with more than 1.5 billion unique numbers in its global database. The app helps users identify callers and automatically block spam.
Algard said his company made the decision to spinout Hiya about three months ago.
“This was not in the cards all along,” he said. “We’ve been surprised about how rapidly the market opportunity has grown for what Hiya does.”
Algard noted that usage of Hiya continues to grow, as spam phone calls have rapidly spread to smartphone users across the globe. Over the past few years, he’s seen a significant change in behavior with people more likely to reject a call that isn’t from a number in their address book.
“Our business is all about providing insights into who’s calling so you know whether or not to pick up the call, and also help you avoid spam,” he said.
Other than a name change and the official spin-out, there aren’t many feature changes coming to Hiya for now, Algard said. Hiya has partners like T-Mobile and Samsung, which both use the company’s technology to offer its customers integrated caller ID and spam-blocking features.
Algard will also continue working as CEO of Whitepages, which now employs 120 and has a massive database of personal and business contact information. The company bought out its venture backers in 2013 in an $80 million deal.