Shridhar Ramaswamy was the head of Google’s $115 billion ad business until he quit in 2018.
Several companies have tried taking on and overtaking Google as the world’s most popular search engine. While most of them failed, some like Microsoft Bing and DuckDuckGo still exist. Adding to the list of companies making an attempt to be an alternative to Google Search, or perhaps even replace, is Neeva - a search engine developed by an Indian-American ex-Google executive.
The two biggest highlights of Neeva, a search engine company developed by Shridhar Ramaswamy, the former head of Google’s $115 billion ad business, are privacy and ad-free search experience.
Ramaswamy told The New York Times that the reason he had left Google in 2018 was because of the search engine’s revenue model that prioritised ads and pushed useful search results down the page. Add to it the cost of user privacy to keep a track on what ads people were seeing.
Neeva is a search engine that will look up information on the web as well as personalised files. The search rankings will be powered by Microsoft Bing, weather information from weather.com, stock data from Intrinio, maps from Apple.
When users link their Google, Microsoft Office or Dropbox account, Neeva sifts through personal files, as well as the public internet, for the right answers. The search results will become more personalised over time, based on various factors like contacts, the retailers you ordered from, the newsletters you receive from several publications, etc.
Unlike Google, Neeva will not show ads on the search results page nor collect or profit from user data. The company will instead charge a subscription fee from users.
“Whether you are looking for general information, or something deeply personal—like an important email, a calendar invite, or a copy of your passport—you can be certain that your information is your own, and not sold on to advertisers as a means of targeting you with their ads, Neeva stated in its blog post.
This could be a challenge for a company, which essentially does not have any proof-of-concept on its search results. To tackle this initial hurdle, Neeva will be free for users until the end of the year. Post, the company aims at charging users less than $10 subscription fee each month and hopes to bring the price down as more users get on board.
Neeva may be a Google search alternative to those who are willing to pay to protect their privacy on the web. The company has managed to raise $37.5 million and has 25 employees.
Will the company be able to get enough subscriptions to survive and compete against the likes of Google? Only time will tell.