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What started out as an intriguing startup notion a few years ago — a mobile search engine that can find apps using natural language — has now raised a total of more than $74 million.

Quixey announced today that it has raised $50 million in a third round of funding led by China’s Alibaba Group. That’s a big leap over its last few rounds, and it’s a sign that the company is on to something with its “Functional Search” technology, which lets you search for apps by describing what you’d like them to do. (For example, you can search for an app to “track my running routes.”)

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“If someone wants the right app for them, they should be able to say exactly what they want and always find the best solution,” Quixey CEO and cofounder Tomer Kagan told us during the company’s last funding round. “We can find you the right app when you don’t even know you’re asking a question.”

Quixey can search apps on most platforms, including iOS, Android, and Windows Phone, as well as browser extensions and web apps. The company says it will use the funding to continue developing its search engine technology and to hire more employees.

I first covered Quixey before it launched in 2011, and it’s been remarkable to see its progress in just two years. Today, the company’s goal seems more valuable than ever. App stores do a decent job of surfacing the best apps, but it’s tough to find very specific apps that don’t rank on leaderboards. Quixey initially competed with Chomp, an app discovery tool that Apple acquired last year and proceeded to implement in the App Store.

Mountain View, Calif.-based Quixey was founded in 2009. Other investors in this round included GGV Capital, and existing investors Innovation Endeavors, TransLink Capital, US Venture Partners, Atlantic Bridge, and WI Harper.

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