How about That Subscription Web Search Model?

January 24, 2022

Former Googlers Sridhar Ramaswamy and Vivek Raghunathan are refining their paid, privacy-centric search platform Neeva. We have followed this development from the 2020 beta through the 2021 official launch. Now we learn Neeva has added a free tier from The Next Web’s piece, “How a Couple of Ex-Googlers Are Trying to Fix What’s Wrong with Search Engines.” It appears not enough users are (yet) willing to pay the low, low price of $4.95 per month for search and the team is looking to upsell about 5% of those who sign on for free. It might be a good bet—Ramaswamy reports that a third of folks who sampled the free trial have subscribed. Even he was surprised users cited the peaceful, ad-free screen as their favorite feature. Reporter Ivan Mehta writes:

“[Neeva] will offer ad-free search with customizations, and integration to accounts such as Gmail, Microsoft Office, and Dropbox. People who’re paying for Neeva’s services will get all of this, a leading third-party VPN and a password manager service, and advanced features, like a monthly Q&A. As far as search engine features go, Neeva offers customizations, such as being able to see particular sites in results more or less. You can also ‘skip’ an ecommerce site in results, or get the whole recipe for a dish without having to visit a site. What’s more, the new search engine lets your look through your email right from the search bar. And if you install Neeva’s extension, it also blocks ad trackers that are collecting your browsing data. Last October, Neeva also launched a 1-click Fasttap search geared towards mobile where users just need to type a phrase to get accurate search results. It’s like Google auto-complete on steroids.”

The write-up includes a few screenshots of Neeva features in action. Regarding the how-to behind it all, Mehta tells us:

“On the technological side, while Neeva is aggregating some search results from Bing, the company is building its own crawler and looking at billions of pages every day. But as Raghunathan pointed out in his FastCompany interview earlier this month, crawling the web to create a new index while maintaining privacy standards is hard.”

Perhaps if anyone is up to the task, it is these two Xooglers. As of yet, Neeva is only available in the US, but the company hopes to become global. The plan is to expand into India and Western Europe “soon.” One tactic it is using to compete against the likes of privacy-focused DuckDuckGo and Brave is its partnership with news rating agency NewsGuard, which is helping it assess the accuracy of information. We wonder whether such features plus the free-tier offering will help Neeva reach its stated goal: to become the primary search engine for millions of privacy-centered users in the next two years.

Are there monetization options? The Point team is available to offer some ideas. Just write benkent2020 at yahoo dot com. We’ve been there and know the subscription method was a loser decades ago.

Cynthia Murrell, January 24, 2021


One Response to “How about That Subscription Web Search Model?”

  1. As Privacy Concerns Grow, So Do Search Alternatives : Stephen E. Arnold @ Beyond Search on February 23rd, 2022 5:23 am

    […] Engines Try to Rival Google by Offering Fewer Ads, More Privacy.” Writer Jonathan Ore begins with Neeva, founded by ex-Googler Sridhar […]

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