A few days ago, Google threatened the Australian government that it would remove its search engine from the country if it imposes too many regulations and tax burden on the company. This threat shows that Google, a private company based in California, has become so powerful that it can threaten sovereign nation-states and they would have to bow down to the company as it has become too crucial for their day-to-day business and the smooth functioning of their economy.
However, such blatant abuse of power and anti-competitive behaviour shows that the world is ready for an alternative to Google’s search engine and many countries and consumers will be ready to embrace it. As soon as a sophisticated alternative emerges, countries like Australia would run after it.
The old saying goes- ‘If you are not paying for the product then you are the product’, and Google has converted us into the same products. Several consumers, corporations, and countries are now looking for an alternate search engine which does not show them ads or steals their personal data. Therefore, a few Indian entrepreneurs who are IIT graduates and ex-Google executives are ready to float an ad-free paid search engine named ‘Neeva’.
“At scale, an ad-supported product serves the company that shows you ads, it does not serve you,” said Sridhar Ramaswamy who is ready to roll out the search engine ‘Neeva’ along with Vivek Raghunathan. Both these entrepreneurs are IIT alumni and former Google executives, who are all set to roll out Neeva, an alternative to Google, which has a customer-paid revenue model and customer-first philosophy.
“The ad model has been great for bringing search to everyone on the planet, but over time there is more and more pressure to show more ads and not really what the user wants. Our thesis is that we can create a much better search product, focusing solely on what a customer needs,” said Ramaswamy, the CEO of Neeva, in an interview with The Indian Express.
Sridhar Ramaswamy – the 54-year-old IIT Chennai graduate and formerly a Google executive has served as the Senior Vice-President of ads and commerce at Google, and also handled its travel, shopping and search infrastructure teams. Raghunathan, the other leader in the team, is an IIT Mumbai graduate and has served Google as the Vice-President of Monetisation at YouTube.
A team of 45 employees is already working on the search engine and will start the roll-out of Neeva by mid-2021. Given the broad experiences of both team leaders and the great set of engineers they have in their team, they are confident of bring-in a great and rather inexpensive search engine, unlike Google. The first target audience would be countries with a large English-speaking population, and therefore, India would be among the first countries where the search-engine would be rolled out.