The Privacy One Group, owned by the lead generation and targeted ad company System1, took a majority stake in privacy search engine Startpage.com.
On Sept. 28, 2019, the company quietly announced the deal, saying that Surfboard Holding, the founding company, remains active in the company.
System1 also has ties to Verizon, which on Tuesday introduced its own privacy search engine called OneSearch, powered by Bing.
“Startpage is now majority owned by pay-per-click behavioral ad company System1,” wrote privacy expert and former Startpage employee Liz McIntyre, in a tweet. “System1 has ties to Verizon/Yahoo via its new CEO and purchase of Mapquest. Search power is consolidating, I’m afraid. No good for consumer.”
In a Reddit post, McIntyre lays out some questions she thinks consumers should ask all
privacy services, but in an in-depth discussion on Reddit between the new Startpage management
and users established that System1’s investment will provide additional funds and resources to create more traction for the product, especially in the U.S.
Startpage kept its headquarters and operations in the Netherlands, ensuring that users are protected by Dutch and EU privacy laws.
Some believe Startpage made a name for itself by offering advertisements that rely solely on what consumers enter into their search box like DuckDuckGo, but it seems the majority stake prompts questions on the decision.
While Startpage relies on Google for its search results, it taps Bing for its news feeds.
“I wish things were different, but we're in the midst of what I call a ‘Privacy Gold Rush.’ Now that privacy is a money maker, some of the worst tracking organizations are swarming privacy like moths to a porch light. Eyes open!” McIntyre wrote.