You.com is the latest search engine to appear on the scene. The company’s co-founders are Richard Socher, formerly the Chief Scientist at Salesforce, and Bryan McCann, formerly the Lead Research Scientist at Salesforce Research.
Last November, the cofounder duo secured $20 million of seed capital in a funding round led by Marc Benioff’s Time Ventures. On July 14, the startup announced another $25 million commitment of early-stage venture capital. The VC firm Radical Ventures led that Series A round of funding.
Marc Benioff, the chairman and co-founder of Salesforce, also happens to own the you.com domain, which he acquired in 1996. As the story goes, Benioff was sufficiently impressed by Socher and McCann’s vision for a privacy-focused search engine that he agreed the project should use the you.com domain. Benioff refers to you.com as “the future of search.”
On November 9, 2021, do-founder Richard Socher announced that an early version of the site was available for public use, adding that, “you.com is sparking a movement to take back the internet and give people control of the information they consume so they can live more thoughtful digital lives free from manipulation.” More to the point, the company claims that it “never sells personal information, nor does it ever track users around the internet,” and that it “has committed to never offering targeted privacy-invading ads.”
Google, for example, collects information (e.g., which websites we visit and what we search for) that can be used to build profiles about us that help Google determine which ads to present to us next, for instance.
Notably, you.com is not the first internet search engine to emphasize privacy. The best known, similarly positioned search engine, DuckDuckGo, launched in 2008. DuckDuckGo explains that the company makes money by posting private ads on the site (ads which ad trackers cannot track), plus from affiliate partnerships (where other companies pay a site to generate traffic or leads which could result in sales of the company’s products or services). It remains to be seen exactly how you.com will monetize search traffic to the site.
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