A number of upstart search engines have made the attempt over the years to take on Google, but failed. Not including the recent crop of privacy search players led by DuckDuckGo, the time has possibly come to see a new challenger enter the ring.
Sridhar Ramaswamy, who used to run Google’s massive ad business has decided to take on the challenge. He left Google in 2018.
One of the big things that will be different here is that it isn’t going to have advertising or be subscription based. Also, it won’t track users, and it’ll be personalized, which, reportedly, will be accomplished without data mining. Neeva has 25 employees and has raised $37.5 million.
Neeva isn’t going to try reinventing the search wheel. It will be utilizing existing content and data sources: Bing search results, Apple Maps, weather.com and other data sources. Not only that, Neeva will search personal files like email and “local” documents along with the web.
According to the NT Times, Ramaswamy started to become disappointed with Google in how the were run, ultimately leaving the company. “The relentless pressure to maintain Google’s growth, he said, had come at a heavy cost to the company’s users. Useful search results were pushed down the page to squeeze in more advertisements, and privacy was sacrificed for online tracking tools to keep tabs on what ads people were seeing.”
Ramaswamy said that both quality and usefulness of Google’s search results became compromised by the focus on ad revenue. Even though there are quite a few in the industry who agrees with this, there will always be an inevitable focus on revenue growth as a public company. “It’s a slow drift away from what is the best answer for the user and how do we surface it,” Ramaswamy explained.
At first, Neeva will be free, eventually costing “less than $10 per month.” This subscription should slowly lower as more subscribers join. If that’s the case, the subscription model will never capture more than a small percentage of users if this happens.