In brief: Despite being the preferred choice among most internet users, it’s no secret that privacy and an ad-free experience are two things not associated with Google’s search engine. There is, however, an alternative, one that comes from two former Googlers, though it will cost you $4.95 per month.
Sridhar Ramaswamy and Vivek Raghunathan, two former Google executives (about 30 percent of their company’s staff are ex-Googlers), hope their newly launched search engine Neeva will be able to steal some of the 90% market share enjoyed by their one-time employer. Unlike Google, which makes most of its money from ads, Neeva uses a subscription-based model, meaning no privacy concerns or search results populated by advertisements.
In addition to having no ads, Neeva also blocks all trackers, and users are able to pick their favorite news sources, retailers, and other sites rather than seeing generic results. There are also product recommendations gathered in one place with reviews from reputable sites and verified customers, and Neeva promises to share “at least 20%” of its revenue with content creators, paying out when their content directly answers a user’s search query.
Neeva works with all the major browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, Brave, Edge, and Safari, and the company promises never to share users’ data. You can also sync your email, calendar, and documents with the engine for searching.
“I tell people that Neeva is as much a social experiment as it is a technological experiment,” says Ramaswamy, the company’s CEO, told Fast Company. “It’s looking for the answer to the question, ‘If there was a high-quality product that clearly benefits you in multiple ways, would you pay for it as opposed to having it be free, supported by ads?'”
If you’re curious to give Neeva a try, the first three months are free, and then it’s $4.95 per month.