Strategic turn in Neeva. The company launched in 2021 as alternative to google With a focus on privacy, it has decided to close its search engine. From now on, his bet will focus on another field, in which she has been working for some time and has shown significant potential: artificial intelligence (AI). The announcement has been made by the company itself, which acknowledges: “It is one thing to create a search engine and quite another to convince regular users of the need to switch to a better option.”
Behind Neeva are two former Google engineers with significant career paths: Sridhar Ramaswamy, who came to serve as Senior Vice President of Google Ads; and Vivek Raghunathan, vice president of monetization at YouTube. His adventure began in 2019. Two years later, Neeva took off in the US market, from which it expanded to other countries, including Spain. Here he arrived —as we told you in his day— a few months ago, in January 2023.
His philosophy was relatively simple. Opposite to Google’s model, based on data collection and advertising, Neeva offered a search engine with a strong commitment to privacy, without tracking user actions or advertisements: “The Internet must be a private corner of the web instead of a barrage of SEO spam, ads, and irrelevant information. We reinvented search.”
“A private corner of the web”
The price to pay: a subscription of 5.99 euros per month, an amount that included a VPN and a password manager. Shortly before landing in Spain, the company had also launched Neeva IA, capable of generating texts in real time on searches. “Privacy, unfortunately, is like exercising: everyone agrees that they should do it, but the number of people who actually do it is small,” Ramaswamy explained to Xataka.
Three months later, Neeva has decided to apply a radical change in its strategy, driven by “headwinds” and an economic environment that has led it to a resounding conclusion: “There is no longer a path to creating a sustainable business in the search Accordingly—they abound from the company—in the coming weeks we will be shutting down Neeva.com and our consumer search product and focusing on a new scope“.
Those who have a Premium subscription will receive a refund and the company ensures that, as part of its closure, it is deleting all the data of its users. On its website it already incorporates a notice that warns that Neeva.com will close in a matter of a couple of weeks: next Friday, June 2.
“Getting users has been really hard. Contrary to popular belief, convincing users to pay for a better experience was actually a less difficult problem than getting them to try a new search engine in the first place,” Neeva writes. a statement in which he also acknowledges the difficulty of building a search engine with a team of 50 people “who are facing entrenched organizations with infinite resources“.
“Throughout this journey we have discovered that it is one thing to build a search engine and quite another to convince users of the need to switch to a better option. From the unnecessary friction to change the default search settings to the challenges to help people understand the difference between a search engine and a browser.”
What will you focus on now?
The company slips that from now on it will focus on the possibilities of AI. It is not new terrain. At the beginning of the year, it launched NeevaAI in the United States, a resource that offered searches with AI in real time. “At the beginning of 2022 we clearly saw the impact that generative AI and LLMs would have”, the firm abounds, which assures that it has seen ” the clear and pressing need” to use large language models in an “effective, economical, safe and responsible way”.
“Many of the techniques that we have pioneered with small models, size reduction, latency reduction, and cheap deployment are the things that companies really want and need today. We are actively exploring how we can apply our experience in search and LLM in these environments”, abound from the company, without providing further details.
Over the next few weeks, he assures that he will give more clues about his future. For now, The Information published a few days ago that Snowflake would have shown interest in taking over Ramaswamy and Raghunathan’s startup.
Cover image: TechCrunch (Flickr)
In Xataka: Google will stop being the search engine we know. AI will completely change the way it delivers results