Neeva search engine launches in Europe to rival Google, with zero tracking or ads

Search engine Neeva has today (6 October) launched in Europe in a bid to challenge Google's dominance, by giving web users honest search results, no tracking and with no advertisements or affiliate links.

Neeva has already acquired over 600,000 users in the US, following its 2021 launch, and is now bringing its platform to the UK, with its aim of offering users greater control over search and delivering honest results.

Founded by Sridhar Ramaswamy, an ex-senior vice president of advertising at Google, and Vivek Raghunathan, an ex-vice president of monetisation at YouTube, Neeva claims to be "reinventing web search for good", challenging Google’s web-search dominance. Neeva’s European expansion follows a successful 2021 $40m 'Series B' funding round.

The intention with Neeva is to put users first and give consumers control to customise their web search experiences. By eschewing ads and advertisers, Neeva eliminates the corporate bias that has increasingly plagued the traditional search experience over the last 20 years.

Neeva's sole stated goal is to create a search engine that delivers the best and most transparent results as quickly as possible. Users can select their preferred information sources – such as news outlets, shopping, software engineering sites, travel and others – based on personal preference and relevance, rather than what advertisers suggest. This is all done while still respecting users’ privacy by blocking third-party tracking and never profiting from user data.

Commenting on Neeva’s launch, Ramaswamy, CEO, said: “Neeva is a user-first platform focused on private, transparent searches versus a search engine serving advertisers. The internet should be your private corner of the web instead of a barrage of ads, SEO spam and irrelevant information.

“We’re reinventing search by giving users control over sources; providing accurate and transparent results as well as private and customised experiences without the influence of corporate bias, tracked around the web.”

Neeva offers a freemium model and will first launch its private, ad-free free basic service in Europe, later introducing its premium subscription model with additional features such as a VPN and password manager. Neeva operates its own independent search stack, returning fast results with high levels of accuracy, drawing from an index of billions of web pages.

Neeva also enables users to connect personal applications such as email, Dropbox, Slack, Figma and more, making it easy to search across the most important personal documents while maintaining strict privacy controls.

“Google has dominated the search engine market, maintaining over 90 per cent market share. Neeva will challenge this supremacy by creating a better search and browse experience that delights users,” Ramaswamy said.

“Users should be in control of their search and web experience rather than accepting one company deciding the information they see. The ad-supported internet has created vastly misaligned incentives that have made 'Big Technology' monopolies and advertisers richer while exploiting the privacy and personal data of users. It’s time for a new approach to search that puts people first.”

To date, search alternatives to Big Tech have mostly offered stronger privacy at the expense of diminished search quality. Neeva claims to be unique in building its own independent search stack (crawling, indexing and serving at scale) and without ads, ostensibly freeing it to design user-first features with the sole focus of providing the best results in the most efficient way possible, with the high degree of strong privacy expected and demanded by today’s internet users.

Google has dominated the search engine world since it first appeared in the late 1990s, its minimalist search interface contrasting starkly with the bloated, busy designs of other companies' seach offerings. The company famously had the phrase ‘Don’t be evil’ as its unofficial motto, also included in its own corporate code of conduct, although in recent years some people have questioned how strongly Google still holds to this stated noble aim.

As the behind-the-scenes practices of Google's ad-driven business model for its search product became more widely known – coupled with the dubiously monetised rise of Facebook and its various social media offerings – other search engines emerged as a counterpoint to this nefarious culture of secret tracking and data-harvesting.

DuckDuckGo is perhaps the best known of these search alternatives, with Firefox and Opera other long-standing, privacy-focused rivals to Google. Neeva now joins the ranks of alternative search engines, marking a return to the user-centric, simple ethos of Google's search origins.

Sign up to the E&T News e-mail to get great stories like this delivered to your inbox every day.

Recent articles