After leaving a company, many former employees will branch off and start their own venture. But what happens when the employees in question worked for the biggest internet company in the world and are attempting to create a brand-new search engine to compete with Google? That’s what two former Google employees are on a quest to find out.
Sridhar Ramaswamy, who ran Google’s ad division for 15 years, partnered with Google’s former VP of Monetization at YouTube, Vivek Raghunathan, to create their own search engine called Neeva.
Based in Mountain View, California, which is only three miles from Google’s headquarters, Neeva has recruited several other former Google employees to work for the company.
According to Search Engine Journal, what sets Neeva apart from Google is that the platform runs without any advertising. In order to earn revenue, Neeva will operate on a subscription basis, charging users between $5 and $10 per month.
Neeva’s goal is for users to see search results that aren’t dictated by advertisers.
A description of the new search engine on Neeva’s website says:
“Search is the gateway to the world’s information, and with Neeva, we want to help you experience the Internet in a new way—free of distractions, prying eyes and frustration.”
While Neeva doesn’t promise not to collect user data, user privacy is a big priority.
Neeva not only adheres to the Google API Services User Data Policy, but doesn’t share user information across accounts or apps, or with advertisers or third parties.
Users also have a lot of control over their data. When using the search engine, users can:
Access their personal data
Update or correct any information
Request restrictions or deletion
While it may seem incomprehensible that any search engine could ever rival Google, Neeva is actually one of many alternative search engines that are gaining popularity among internet users due to growing privacy concerns.
For instance, DuckDuckGo is an increasingly popular search engine with privacy protections in place.
Even still, Google remains the most popular and most trusted search engine according to a recent survey.
Neeva is currently in beta testing and has not yet been launched, but is expected to be rolled out sometime this year.
In the meantime, tens of thousands of people are already signed up to Neeva’s wait list and the search engine has raised $40 million to help accelerate the launch. To date, Neeva has generated over $77.5 million in funding and is valued at $300 million.
Once it is formally launched, it will be interesting to see if Neeva is able to build the same level of trust and popularity as Google.