Former Google ads boss said the government needs do more to restrict market dominance, but shouldn’t interfere too much with how the tech ecosystem actually works.
Speaking with City A.M., former Silicon Valley exec turned search-engine startup founder Sridhar Ramaswamy said that regulators need to find a balance between keeping behemoths like Apple and Google in check, but also allowing enough room for new businesses to come into the sphere and disrupt it.
He said the focus for watchdogs should instead be on increasing consumer choice.
Ramaswamy told City A.M. that by the time he left Google in 2018, the $209bn ads business had become an “untameable beast” in what had become a “zero sum game”: something that spurred him on to create Neeva in 2019.
Neeva is an ad-free search engine, which doesn’t sell user data to third-parties nor track them, but makes money through an optional premium subscription offering (a freemium model).
Having already raised over $80m (£68.7m), Ramaswamy said the privacy-first business was still in its “early days”, with only 600,000 users in the US and having launched in the UK earlier this month.
It operates its own independent search stack, drawing from an index of billions of web pages and allowing users to connect personal applications like email, Dropbox, Slack, Figma and others.
Ramaswamy noted his belief that online searches were “one of the most deeply personal things”, thus heightening the imperative of safety in the space.
Neeva is available as a native mobile app on Android and iOS, as well as desktop.