Yeah. That’s what over 92% of the world does. Everything from how to fix a broken clip to a broken heart, we don’t ‘search’ anymore. We ‘Google it’. And, to take a bite of the treasure trove of Google’s knowledge, all we have to do is watch a few ads.
Good Google, no?
Well, they also get to make a cool $115 bn in ad revenue, while the companies who draw such plum pay-cheques get to increase their visibility and business. A true case of win-win-win.
A perfect world.
So it’s worth asking, should anyone even dream of getting into Google’s business?
Well, the very people who worked in making Google Google, mustered the courage to build an alternative to Google’s search engine, Neeva. Approx a dozen ex-Googlers are working in this startup. Why, though?
Umm, the perfect world of Google is far from perfect. And, these ex-Googlers want to change that.
The Google era has infringed on our personal space in a scary way. Over 40% of our search results are ads. They profile us into categories, and soon the harmless promoted posts close down the world on us. How?
Well, to increase its revenue share, Google will want us to come back to the platform again and again. Now to do that, it will show us what we want, and not what we need. As a result, in the vast universe of the Internet, we get caught in a planet of resources that only conforms to our thought process, leaving little scope for our holistic growth.
This is called an “echo-chamber” effect.
And why just our thoughts, these free online services begin to command our moods, our actions and the way we live (if you haven’t seen The Social Dilemma, a Netflix Documentary, we strongly recommend that you do).
Ironically, the man who started Neeva, Mr. Sridhar Ramaswamy, is the one who ran Google ads. He worked at Google for 15 years, and perhaps knowing too much made him leave.
He is bent on changing the narrative that Google and other online services have been feeding us: that to democratize services, they have to be free. But, there is no free lunch. These free services are doing more harm than good.
Mr Sridhar argues, “all of us pay for the water that comes through our tap”. So many of us have also become comfortable with paying for Netflix, Spotify, etc. It’s about time we start paying for ‘search’ too. And, that’s what Neeva is all about. For a monthly subscription fee of $5-10, Neeva will personalize your data as per your preferences and behaviour. But, personalization does not mean selling your soul. They only serve us and will give results that benefit us.
But, how does Neeva plan to compete with free Google?
Well, Neeva plans to complement Google, and not compete with it. Just like Netflix is not anti-theatre, Neeva is not anti-Google.
You see, many such products already exist in the market. Neeva itself suggests choosing from alternatives such as ad blockers, private search engines, and other browsers. But, if it is suggesting other free products, how can it grow?
By giving a rich search experience. Neeva search bar will be synced with your mails, calendar, and cloud. Don’t remember where you saved something? Just hit on the Neeva search bar. And many more interesting search features are a part of Neeva’s offerings.
The startup is currently valued at $300 million and will be coming to India by next year. Do you think it will be able to make a dent in the Indian market? More importantly, will you be willing to pay for it? Let us know in the comments!
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