An advert- and tracker-free search engine was launched in the UK, France and Germany on Thursday. Creator Sridhar Ramaswamy, who worked at Google for 16 years and ran its ad business, told BBC News the technology sector had become “exploitative” of people’s data, something he no longer wanted to be a part of.
What Is Neeva
Neeva has 600,000 users in the US, where it launched last year and has raised around $77.5m (£68m) from investors. It offers free-to-use search, with other features such as password-manager access and virtual-private-network (VPN) service to be made available on a subscription basis. Users are asked to create an account, to build subscriptions at a later date. The UK price was likely to be about £5 per month, Mr Ramaswamy said. “Google has a dominant position in the marketplace – and the incentive for them to truly innovate, to truly create disruptive experiences, is not really there,” he added.
Get a Taste Of Neeva
Search the word “migraine” on both Google and Neeva, and the first page of the results are fairly similar – links to news articles and factual information. But with a brand, the difference becomes more stark. If we try “BMW”, both search engines lead with links to the carmaker’s website and Wikipedia entry. But while Google follows with a map, social-media feeds and links to used-car dealers, Neeva sticks with different BMW official pages. Google certainly has more variety – but it is also blatantly pushing me towards buying a car. Neeva’s Chrome browser extension lists the trackers installed on web pages visited.
Interestingly, asked if Mr Ramaswamy could ever topple his former employer, Steph Liu, an analyst at Forrester specializing in privacy and search, said: “Realistically, no, it’s a sort of David and Goliath story. Google has too many users, it has too much revenue…”
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