Sridhar Ramaswamy, former SVP of Ads at Google, and Vivek Raghunathan, former vice president of monetization at YouTube, will shut down Neeva’s ad-supported search engine on June 2.
The two launched the ad-supported search engine in June 2021, but the model struggled to gain traction. Despite all its features, the company wasn’t able to convince enough people to pay for the Google Search alternative.
On May 20, the company posted a notice to Neeva’s website stating that the search engine will shut down on June 2, 2023.
“We started Neeva with the mission to take search back to its users,” the founders wrote in a post on the site. “Having worked on search and search ads for over a decade, we sincerely believed that there was space for a model of search that put user and not advertiser interests first — a private, ads-free experience.”
Generative artificial intelligence (AI) and large language models (LLMs) will have an impact on the company and search. The founders embarked on an ambitious effort to seamlessly blend LLMs into its search stack. Earlier this year, Neeva integrated real-time AI answers into a majority of queries.
“But throughout this journey, we’ve discovered that it is one thing to build a search engine, and an entirely different thing to convince regular users of the need to switch to a better choice,” the founders wrote. “From the unnecessary friction required to change default search settings, to the challenges in helping people understand the difference between a search engine and a browser, acquiring users has been really hard.”
A less difficult challenge is convincing users to pay for a better search service.
All may not be lost. At the bottom of the post, the co-founders suggest that many of the techniques the company’s developers built with small models, size reduction, latency reduction, and inexpensive deployment are elements enterprises want and need. They are exploring how to apply the search and LLM expertise in the enterprise space.