December 5, 2023

challenger search engine neva river The Mountain View, California-based company revealed that it is winding down its consumer business, at least in its current form.

Founders Sridhar Ramaswamy and Vivek Raghunathan wrote in a blog post The significant challenges they faced yesterday in attracting new users, combined with the difficult economic environment that all companies are currently facing, means that continuing on the current path is no longer feasible.

“There is no longer a path to create a sustainable business in consumer search,” they wrote. “As such, over the next few weeks, we will be shutting down and our consumer search product and moving to a new areas of focus.”

Neeva was founded in 2019 by ex-Googlers Ramaswamy and Raghunathan Launches an ad-free, subscription-only (i.e. paid) search engine in the US two years agoforward add one Join the portfolio for free after six months. In the months that followed, Neeva said it amassed more than 600,000 users, though the vast majority were on the free plan. In search of growth, Neeva launched a rapid global expansion in October, starting in Europe, and then began trying to reshape the entire search experience with a new generative AI engine that combines multiple results and sources to create a single answer.

The death of “10 Blue Links” is a common thought.

NeevaAI in action image credits: TechCrunch

Neeva has also been working on A standalone generative AI search application called Gistalthough it is already available on android Its iOS product, which was due to launch at the end of March, has been repeatedly delayed with little explanation.

David and Goliath and Goliath

The number of layoffs in tech over the past year clearly shows that even the largest companies face tough economic headwinds, and Neeva won’t be indifferent. The company has raised more than $75 million since its founding, including from big-name backers like Sequoia Capital and Greylock, but Neeva should probably consider a Series C round more than two years since its Series B —something, at last, apparently did not come.

While Neeva’s promise of a true replacement for Google is largely based on an ad-free experience and its own search stack, at the end of the day, knocking Google down from its lofty perch will always be a tall order. That’s something its deep-pocketed rival Microsoft has been trying to do recently, injecting a bit of OpenAI’s ChatGPT into its Bing search engine, prompting Google to join Bard in accelerating efforts in the area.

So this is clearly a David vs. Goliath & Goliath affair, although Neeva does have support from other challengers like and Brave. It’s clear from all of this that Neeva just isn’t seeing the growth it or its investors hoped for. The founders insist, however, that convincing users to pay for ad-free search isn’t the hard part — the main challenge is actually getting them to move away from the big, established players, primarily Google.

“Contrary to popular belief, convincing users to pay for a better experience is actually a simpler problem than getting them to try a new search engine first,” the founders wrote. “Throughout our journey, we’ve found that building a search engine is one thing, but convincing ordinary users that they need to switch to a better option is an entirely different thing. From the unnecessary friction required to change default search settings, to helping people understand With the challenge of differences between search engines and browsers, acquiring users is really hard.”

enterprise search

As part of the closure of its consumer business, Neeva said it would refund paid subscribers and delete all user data. But that doesn’t necessarily spell the end of Neeva. The company has previously mentioned some future monetization plans beyond paid subscriptions, including licensing transactions to support in-app search within the enterprise — a route it may be more eager to pursue as it winds down its main business.

earlier this week, report appears Neeva is in discussions with cloud computing giant Snowflake about a possible acquisition, and given the news that Neeva is transitioning away from consumers, such a deal makes perfect sense. Essentially, taking the work it’s already done on large-scale language models (LLM) and search and using it for very specific use cases — especially on-premises where you don’t want to rely on technology from the likes of Google or Microsoft, or Don’t want to start my own in-house development from scratch.

But Neeva has yet to confirm any concrete plans for its next steps, whether as part of a larger enterprise or licensing its technology to others.

“Over the past year, we have seen a clear and urgent need for effective, affordable, safe and responsible use of the LLM,” concludes the founders. “Many of the techniques we have pioneered in terms of small models, reduced size, reduced latency, and cheap deployment are elements that enterprises today really want and need. We are actively exploring how to apply our search and LLM expertise in these environments, and we will Provide an update on our work and the future of our team in the coming weeks.”