Finding information that is important to us—weather, jobs, sports, that strange headache symptom—is a basic and deeply personal human need. In less than twenty years, we’ve gone from looking up information in encyclopedias to being able to find almost anything with a tap on our phone!
I was fortunate to be part of the early engineering team that built Google Search, which democratized access to knowledge for millions of people around the world. It was, and remains, a vitally important service, made free for everyone through online advertising.
As the leader of Google’s advertising products until 2018, I truly believed in the benefits of an ad-supported search experience. And indeed, there are aspects of online advertising that I still very much believe can bring benefits to users and advertisers alike. However, I have come to believe that ads detract from a good search experience and have also had many unintended side-effects that have large social consequences.
First, the very existence of an online ad right on top of the search results pushes down and deprioritizes the information we are searching for. After all, when most of us are searching about flu symptoms, we want to know the symptoms—not see an ad for cough syrup, and certainly not an ad for cough syrup that will then follow us across the Internet for the coming weeks.
Second, ad-supported search engines face the daily pressure of returning value to their shareholders by prioritizing advertisers and ads revenue. This has several unintended consequences, including ever-increasing ad-load, ads driven misinformation and harmful content, and practices that value profit over user privacy.
These problems are further exacerbated by the fact that there tends to be only one or two viable search engines in most countries. A lack of competition in the search space is bad for innovation and bad for users. We need more search engines, offering different kinds of experiences and preferences, to fit people’s individual needs.
Enter Neeva, our vision for a private and ads-free search engine that truly puts you first. Whether you’re looking for general information, or something deeply personal—like an important email, a calendar invite, or a copy of your passport—you can be certain that your information is your own, and not sold on to advertisers as a means of targeting you with their ads.
Neeva isn’t just about privacy, it’s also about simplicity. Most of us are overwhelmed by the vast amounts of information competing for our attention 24/7. Neeva lets you easily find just what you want, either on the public web or in personal accounts you choose to connect.
As an example of how you can use Neeva, if you’re upgrading your study (since we’re all spending a lot of time at home these days), we can help you find the best standing desk and home monitor. Neeva prioritizes quality review sites and brands you trust instead of flooding your screen with paid results. We can also help you save and organize your research so you can come back to it easily.
Neeva’s web search for “best standing desk” and saved research on topics of interest
Neeva’s Home page and search results from personal services
Search is the gateway to the world’s information, and with Neeva, we want to help you experience the Internet in a new way—free of distractions, prying eyes and frustration. Moreover, we strongly believe that you, the customer, have inalienable rights online: we published our manifesto in a consumer Digital Bill of Rights.
We are currently in limited beta testing. Please sign up here to get early access. We’re still in the early stages of building our company and our product, and we’re excited to build it with you.