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[Slashdot] - Inside Neeva, the Ad-Free, Privacy-First Search Engine From ex-Googlers

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Sridhar Ramaswamy and Vivek Raghunathan helped turn Google into an ad giant. Now they're starting over with a service whose only customers are its users. From a report: A new search engine? One that people have to pay to use? At first blush, it may seem like a textbook example of a startup idea destined never to get anywhere. By definition, any new search engine competes with Google, whose 90 percent-plus market share leaves little oxygen for other players. And we've been accustomed to getting our search for free since well before there was a Google -- which might make paying for it sound like being expected to purchase a phone book. But Neeva is indeed a new search engine, officially launching today, that carries a subscription fee. Though it's extremely similar to Google in many respects -- with a few twists of its own -- it dumps the web giant's venerable ad-based business model in the interest of avoiding distractions, privacy quandaries, and other compromises. It's free for three months -- long enough for users to grow accustomed to it without obligation -- and $4.95 a month thereafter. Apps for iPhones and iPads, and browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, and Brave, are part of the deal. Neeva may have a certain whiff of improbability about it, but its cofounders, Sridhar Ramaswamy and Vivek Raghunathan, are the furthest thing from naifs. Two long-time Google executives with more than a quarter-century of experience at the web giant between them, they have an insider's understanding of how it operates. Moreover, about 30 percent of the roughly 60-person staff they've assembled at Neeva consists of ex-Googlers, including Hall-of-Famers such as Udi Manber (a former head of Google search) and Darin Fisher (one of the inventors of Chrome). They've also secured $77.5 million in funding, including investments from venture-capital titans Greylock and Sequoia.

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