Neeva's Road To A Paid Search Engine Service

Sridhar Ramaswamy, who ran Google’s ad business until 2018, created a freemium version of his search engine Neeva in an effort to get more people to use the ad-free service. Now he's ready to change those who are hooked.

Neeva beginning today will offer two services, Neeva Basic and Neeva Premium, available to anyone in the U.S. and soon to consumers worldwide.

This is the next evolution for the company, as the product continues to see steady growth.

The ad-free subscription search engine launched in 2020 with former colleague Vivek Raghunathan, who led engineering for YouTube monetization.

There are two tiers. The Basic members tier provides access to an ad-free, private and customizable search experience, but it’s subject to limitations when it comes to use.



Those who use the basic service can connect all of their personal accounts like Gmail, Microsoft Office, or Dropbox, set news and shopping preferences, and search from multiple devices. All with no obligation to pay, ever.

Neeva Premium members pay a monthly fee -- $4.95 per month or $49.95 a year -- and receive unlimited access to all Neeva search and browsing features.

The Premium features include the latest innovative search feature, exclusive benefits like membership in a Neeva-hosted community, and privacy tools such as a VPN and password manager that are coming later this month.

Those who pay $4.95 per month for a Neeva Premium subscription also get extra perks like an integration with Slack, GitHub, Notion, and Dropbox, along with others. The integrations mean the user can search for personal information along with results from the web, similar to the way Microsoft Windows works.

In November, Neeva partnered with NewsGuard, which provides credibility ratings and detailed “Nutrition Labels” for thousands of news and information websites. 

At the time, Neeva said it would use NewsGuard as “middleware” that integrates labels directly into the search results it provides to those searching for content across its engine.

The idea behind the freemium service, Ramaswamy told Fast Company, is that users who “perform at least 10 queries in Neeva and install the company’s browser extension are three times more likely to stick with the search engine indefinitely. When users perform most of their searches in Neeva, their willingness to pay increases significantly.”

The engine announced other interesting features last year such as “FastTap Search,” which builds on the company’s commitment to completely reimagine the search experience.

With FastTap Search, customers can type their query directly into the URL of their browser or Neeva app, which then provides a drop-down menu they can select from to go straight to the information.

Rather than requiring customers to linger on a search-result page littered with ads like with traditional search models, Neeva’s FastTap Search feature simplifies the search experience to save time for customers.  

“The account setup that we’ve offered in the past has always had with it the implication that at some point you would need to pay, so it felt like a free trial for a paid service,” Steve Shure, Neeva’s chief business officer, told Fast Company.

Neeva will begin by limiting users to 60 queries per month. That limit could change and won’t be disclosed to users up front. A grace period could also be offered when users hit their limit, giving them a chance to pay before the company removes their access.

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