Neeva, once a promising Google Search competitor, is shutting down

by The Insights

Neeva, which once looked like one of the startups with a real chance of challenging Google Search’s supremacy, announced on Saturday that it was shutting down its search engine. Company says it’s turning to AI – and could be acquired by Snowflake, information reported – but mostly seems to believe he failed.

“Building search engines is hard,” Neeva co-founders Sridhar Ramaswamy and Vivek Raghunathan wrote in a blog post announcing the shutdown. (Ramaswamy in particular is part of the reason Neeva seemed promising — as the longtime head of Google’s advertising business, few people are better equipped than him to know how to create and monetize search.) But Neeva l did, they said. It has built a good competitive search engine. It was actually way ahead of Google in some ways, like trading 10 blue links for a more visual page and emphasizing man-made information.

But building the search engine was actually the easy part. “Throughout this journey, we’ve discovered that it’s one thing to build a search engine, and an entirely different thing to convince regular users of the need to upgrade to a better choice,” Ramaswamy and Raghunathan continued. .

Building the search engine was actually the easy part

I’ve spoken with the co-founders of Neeva several times over the past two years, and their list of grievances here is long and well-founded. They had to contend with billion-dollar deals signed by Google to become the default search engine on devices around the world; the huge “are you sure you want to change? pop-ups that appear every time you try to set a new default browser or search engine; the difficulty of finding these parameters in the first place; the mess that is the Chrome Web Store; Again and again. Anyone trying to create a new search engine is fighting an extremely uphill battle.

Neeva was also a paid product, as the company tried to prove a business model for search other than ads and monitoring. “Contrary to popular belief,” the co-founders wrote in the blog post, “convincing users to pay for a better experience was actually a less difficult problem than getting them to try a new search engine first. place”. Combine that with a tough economy, and Neeva simply saw no business path forward.

The timing here is really interesting. Neeva is closing in what could be the best time in two decades for upstart search engines. Users are increasingly fed up with the ad load and poor results they get from Google, and AI chatbots like Bing and ChatGPT have upended everyone’s idea of ​​how to interact with the internet. Neeva has also bet on this, developing a great system based on a language model called Neeva AI that is in many ways more useful than what you’ll get from Bing or Bard. But that wasn’t enough either.

Of course, the race to eliminate Google is still very much on: Bing continues to push hard to gain market share, and Brave recently announced that it’s now running entirely on its own search stack. Companies like and DuckDuckGo are also trying to redesign how search works and using AI to do so. But so far, it seems Google’s only real competitor is, well, Google.

Neeva’s search engine will shut down on June 2. Going forward, Neeva will “move into a new area of ​​focus”, which appears to be based on the LLM and tied to the acquisition of Snowflake. The company will refund users for the unused portion of their Neeva subscriptions and delete all user data. “We are truly grateful to our community,” the co-founders wrote, “and we are truly sorry that we cannot continue to provide the search engine you want and deserve.”

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