Ex-Google Exec's Search Engine Neeva Reaches 1M Users, Expands Into Canada

Privacy search engine Neeva last year committed 20% of its revenue to online publishers and content creators. Now with 1 million monthly users, up from 600,000 following its launch in U.K., France, and Germany last October, the company expanded its services into Canada.

“It’s an early commitment as we build out our subscription base,” said Sridhar Ramaswamy, founder of Neeva and former senior vice president of Google Ads. “A search engine can use information from partners to make the experience better and faster.” These partners, for example, include Medium.

Neeva, which works with about 12 partners, serves right-hand-side previews of articles. When Neeva sends users of the search engine to partners such as Medium, it shares the revenue.

“It’s early, but we have a few fixed-price partnerships with some content providers,” Ramaswamy says. “For our subscription service, we will put together a more complex [strategy] that’s based on some form of impression-based model. Thought it’s meant to cover a broad-swath of people.”

Educating consumers on the privacy-first search model is the biggest huddle the company faces. “If you start with the user, you will create a very different search engine,” he said. “Commercial search engines have become products for advertisers, not products for you and me, which is the founding premise of the company.”

During the past two years, the company has continued to build its own search stack to customize the experience. “We think AI will make the search experience better,”  Ramaswamy says. “Twenty-five years into the internet, we think the search experience of the 10-blue links, where you need to painfully click and find the information, should be a think of the past.”

Vivek Raghunathan, former vice president of monetization at YouTube, also co-founded Neeva. The company, which partly relies on people who rate content and what people click on to serve the best information, has raised more than $80 million from investors such as Sequoia Capital, Greylock Ventures, Inovia Capital, and Neythri Futures Fund.

Neeva also closed a 2021 $40 million Series B funding round. 

The vision for Neeva offers an alternate model for the ways that people search for and consume content and information, Ramaswamy says. “We envision a world where a fraction of users pay for search services, because they get value from it,” he said.

Neeva has an app in beta where the entire blue-link experience disappears. A query returns an immersive experience with machine-learning summaries from the top results, photos with an Instagram and TikTok vibe, where swipeable cards highlight authoritative information about that topic.

It’s authoritative because it is careful with citations and benefits from the power of authority of the web. The cards also suggest other important follow-up questions. Users have the option to find out more on almost everything in the card.

Ramaswamy said Neeva also works with partners in privacy-related software companies, from password managers to VPNs, and soon will work with private email providers.  

“We’re excited about the potential of AI to improve the search experience,” he said, pointing to a preview of technology and app upgrades the company will launch in the coming months, powered by large language models similar to OpenAI’s ChatGPT.

1 comment about "Ex-Google Exec's Search Engine Neeva Reaches 1M Users, Expands Into Canada".
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  1. Bruce McDermott from Atom Valley, December 16, 2022 at 3:55 p.m.

    Just bring back the visitor "search terms" in the analytics so that companies can know how to stock their shelves and do effective online marketing. You will totally wipe the floor with Google if you do this one thing.

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