Neeva, a search engine company that was founded in 2019 by a former executive at Google, announced on Saturday it is shutting down the search engine part of the business. It will instead concentrate its efforts on developing AI and large language models (LLMs).
In a blog post, the company stated it discovered that it was difficult to make a new search engine with just 50 team members. It stated:
We overcame these obstacles and built a search stack from the ground up, running a crawl that fetched petabytes of information from the web and used that to power an independent search stack.
Neeva decided not to use ads for its search engine, unlike Google’s business model. This is ironic because the person who founded Neeva, Sridhar Ramaswamy, was previously Google’s senior vice president of advertising and commerce.
Instead, Neeva used a subscription model to fund development, which cost $5.99 a month or $49.99 for an annual plan. For that price you could use its search browser extension for Chrome, Edge, Firefox, Safari, and others, along with iOS and Android apps. The subscription also threw in a password manager and a VPN with that plan.
Neeva officially launched in 2021 in the US and expanded to other countries in 2022. In January 2023, the company launched NeevaAI, which beat Google’s Bard and Microsoft’s Bing Chat to the punch by offering AI answers to search questions. It expanded to other countries in February just as Bard was announced and Bing Chat launched.
However, it would appear that wasn’t enough to keep Neeva’s search business going. This weekend’s blog post stated:
Contrary to popular belief, convincing users to pay for a better experience was actually a less difficult problem compared to getting them to try a new search engine in the first place.
Neeva will shut down its consumer search engine in the coming weeks, along with the Neeva.com site. All of its user data will be deleted, and people who signed up for Neeva Premium will receive a refund. More information has been posted on an FAQ page.
Neeva’s blog post states that the company itself will go on. It says it wants to help develop LLMs more effectively and more affordably for enterprise users. It added that it will reveal more “future of our work and our team in the next few weeks.”