Neeva, the ad-free search engine, announces closure

In an unexpected turn of events, Neeva, the ad-free and privacy-focused search engine, has announced plans to end its consumer search activities.

The company, co-founded by former Google executives Sridhar Ramaswamy and Vivek Raghunathan, announced this on its website today.

Neeva’s journey

Launched in 2019, Neeva aimed to revolutionize the search engine market by offering an alternative that prioritized user privacy and offered an ad-free experience.

The company was born out of Ramaswamy’s belief that over-reliance on ads hurts the quality of search results. As the CEO of his own search company, Ramaswamy wanted to create a better search experience without ads.

Neeva’s mission was to bring search back to users while focusing on providing an experience that puts their interests first, not those of advertisers.

The company built a search stack from the ground up, deploying a team of 50 people to compete with larger, more established organizations.

By early 2022, Neeva had integrated Large Language Models (LLMs) into its search stack, becoming the first search engine to deliver real-time, cited AI answers to most queries.

A rapid growth and a sudden end

Neeva quickly attracted a sizable user base, growing to half a million monthly active users within four months of launch. Despite this impressive growth, the company faced major challenges in convincing regular users to deviate from their established search habits.

The company cited this challenge in acquiring users and an unspecified change in the economic environment as reasons for the decision to discontinue operations.

As part of the shutdown process, Neeva will delete all user data. Neeva Premium subscribers will receive a refund for the unused portion of their subscription.

Despite the closure of its consumer search product, Neeva’s journey isn’t over yet. The company notes a shift in focus driven by the urgent need for cost-effective, safe, and responsible use of LLMs.

Many of the techniques Neeva has developed, such as B. Model size reduction, latency reduction and cost-effective deployment are elements that companies need. The team wants to explore how to apply their search and LLM expertise in these environments.

Effects on the search engine market

Neeva’s closure highlights the difficulties of new entrants into the search engine market, even with unique features and extensive experience.

Additionally, it raises questions about the feasibility of subscription-based search models and leaves a void for users looking for privacy-focused, ad-free experiences.

Finally, Neeva’s use of LLMs could influence how other companies approach the use of AI in search.

As the Neeva team tackles their next endeavor, the search market and tech industry will no doubt be watching closely as they navigate these uncharted waters.

Featured image: Poetra.RH/Shutterstock