Quixey, a search engine for apps, announced $50 million in series C funding round led by Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant.

Quixey, founded in 2009, is for app searches on mobile and desktop, and in browsers. The service is different from its peers that it allows users to describe what apps they want and returns apps accordingly. Its advertising program, Sponsored Apps, is for apps to target users.

Mobile app search, or app search in general, is what almost every Chinese Internet giant is chasing after as users are moving to mobile and apps are what they visit regularly. Baidu, the largest desktop-based search engine in China that hasn’t held an absolutely dominant position in mobile search market,  spent $1.85 billion on an app distributor, 91 Wireless, and came up with the Light App strategy encouraging app developers to convert their apps into webapps friendly with Baidu mobile search. Qihoo, a rising power in terms of user penetration, has been well-positioned in the mobile app market. 360 Mobile Assistant, a mobile app for downloading and managing apps ran by Qihoo, claims it is the largest mobile app distributor in China. The company also rolled out a mobile app search service, Leidian.com, for users to explore and manage mobile apps.

Alibaba has been actively expanding to areas outside e-commerce. That includes Android-based operating systems for smartphones and smart TVs, mobile messaging app Laiwang, cloud-based services like personal storage service, among other things.

This round of funding in Quixey was joined by GGV Capital and existing investors, Innovation Endeavors, TransLink Capital and US Venture Partners in the U.S., as well as Atlantic Bridge in London and Dublin and WI Harper in Beijing.

Tracey Xiang is Beijing, China-based tech writer. Reach her at traceyxiang@gmail.com

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