Neeva: Ex-Google implements IIT grades ready to introduce Neeva Ad-Free Search Engine
With a workforce of 45 in the US, Neeva will be released in “4-5 months,” first in the US domestic market and then English-speaking regions such as Western Europe, Australia, and India.
In that way, Sridhar Ramaswamy, Vivek Raghunathan, IIT alumni, and former Google executives, are ready to build Neova, an ad-free, private search product, which, by the middle of this year, hopes to deliver a customer-paying and first-line alternative in a time of increasing concerns with regard to the advertising business. Read Malayalam Read
“The ad model was excellent for searching everyone on the planet, but over time there is an increasing demand to display more advertisements and not what the consumer really wants. Our thesis is that we can build a much better search product with an emphasis on what a customer wants,” says Neeva CEO Ramaswamy, speaking in a video call from his home in California. The 54-year-old is familiar with this area as a senior vice president of Google’s advertising and commerce and also operates its travel, shopping, and search technology teams.
Raghunathan studied at IIT Mumbai and was former vice-chairman of YouTube monetization.
“It’s a wide range of experiences, in reality. Vivek was also the first tech chief of what is now known as the Google Assistant. Thus we worked on both sides of the search,” says Ramaswamy, IIT Chennai graduate. This is why they felt “trustworthy enough” to develop the technology reasonably cheaply, he said.
With a team of 45 people in the US, Neeva is expected to be released in “four-five months,” beginning with the US home markets and then English-speaking regions such as Western Europe, Australia, and India. “We have a very good team of engineers, designers and product managers, and very good supporters,” says Ramaswamy. So far Neeva has raised $37.5 million with the same Graylock, Sequoia Capital, and Ramaswamy investments.
Ramaswamy says that the product is different from what people are familiar with, providing a single search and question window for personal data on platforms such as dropbox and email accounts. “We have core technologies to reconsider. And on a certain extent, stuff like how you crawl the web and how you index related basics,” he says. Like Google, Neeva will also use AI and the computer to create the secret sauce — search rankings.
Ramaswamy says about concerns about personal data: “We guarantee that the product and business are built to index your personal data to serve your results and for nothing else… We set up a company that is customer first and the customer alone from the very outset. We are really willing to ensure that this is the only source of income.”
A Neeva blog also reaffirms its dedication to ad-free, assures that “your data is never sold in any form” and guarantees that your search history will be removed in 90 days by default. (The default for Google is 18 months.)
After spending 16 years at Google, Ramaswamy said he felt it was “just not healthy” to have so much influence over large technology platforms. “It’s nice people, this isn’t the problem. If you need to gain more money, there is a great temptation to show another ad,” he says, adding that what Neeva offers is an option. “And this choice makes the Internet richer.”
He recognizes the complexities of delivering a paying product and the need to make sure it is “excellent.” Ramaswamy says, however, that is the inspiration for him. He quotes the example of services such as Spotify and Dropbox, which were popular in segments where free options were missing, and hopes that Neeva may also force its rivals to slash their ads. “Now you can’t say I’m going to show a page of ads… Users will go for a paid option because it’s too much.”
“We are sure that certain segments of the population will see value in a superior product, adds Ramaswamy. And in the current worrisome climate, particularly in terms of the size and effect of technology companies, we feel that we can get enough people who say ‘I want just a simple alternative, a service I use, that I pay.’ And that’s it, there’s no more data worry, no more data worry about what’s going to happen.”