Yahoo buys Donna virtual assistant maker Incredible Labs, will shut down app

Donna 2.0 for iOS (iPhone screenshot 001)

Yahoo’s shopping spree continues as the company announced Thursday its newest acqui-hire: San Francisco based Incredible Labs, the team behind a rather compelling virtual assistant app named Donna.

Incredible launched Donna on iOS last summer. Named after Donna Moss, the popular assistant from the TV show The West Wing, the software is basically a cross between Google Now and Siri.

The application strives to manage your day with features like smart notifications, an anticipatory calendar and in-app directions, to mention but a few. Donna would proactively tell you about upcoming appointments, dial into conference calls for you, let others know when to expect you by analyzing traffic conditions and your frequent locations – even taking into account the little things like the current parking situation.

In November, Donna got updated with Lock screen calling, smarter meeting scheduling and other features. Nothing indicated at the time that Incredible would slow the pace of Donna development, let alone sell out to Yahoo.

Unfortunately, there is some bad news for Donna fans out there: the Internet giant will be shutting down the application following the acquisition…

Incredible broke the news on its blog, confirming the team will be joining the Yahoo Communications department after the transaction (sans co-founder Scott San Filippo) closes shortly, pending customary closing conditions.

Yahoo has confirmed the deal, adding:

When we met with the team from Incredible Labs, it was an immediate fit. As we look to the future, our visions are aligned in that we think technology should be smart enough to think for us.

Five team members will join the Communications team in Sunnyvale at deal close, where they will work on Yahoo Mail.

What about Donna’s future?

“Following closing, Donna will be removed from the app store and discontinued as a service,” Yahoo has confirmed.


At post time, Donna was still available to download from the App Store.

If you’re going to be giving her a whirl, keep in mind that Donna is iOS 7-only.

Yahoo under the Marissa Mayer regime has been buying a bunch of startups as it seeks to regain relevance and reinvent itself in the mobile space. Just in the past quarter alone, the firm bought eight startups.

Investors, however, remain wary of Yahoo’s future. Ad revenues – the company’s bread and butter – declined during the all-important holiday quarter.

Here’s Robert Scoble’s interview with Incredible Labs’ CEO, Kevin Cheng.

Yahoo reported a two percent annual decline in net revenues to $1.2 billion.

Though search ad revenues grew by eight percent to $461 million, display ad revenues dropped six percent annually to $591 million (each excluding traffic acquisition costs).

If it weren’t for Yahoo’s investment in Alibaba, China’s hugely profitable Internet group, the results would have been much worse.

Are you sad to see Donna go?