The folks at DuckDuckGo exclaim that they never invade the privacy of their users unlike Google and ensures zero-click information for better search. They use information gathered from crowd-sourced sites as Wikipedia says “with the aim of augmenting traditional results and improving relevance”. StartupsFM team had a conversation with Gabriel Weinberg, founder of DuckDuckGo and a former co-founder of NamesDatabase, in understanding their vision and their progress so far.
How long did it take for you to decide that you really wanted to build a search engine as your next product?
I was messing around with various projects, one of which was DuckDuckGo. An alternate search engine resonated with early users, got some traction and was the most interesting project. The entire process took less than 12 months.
Considering that search is assumed to be an expensive affair, do you think there is scope for others?
Yes, we have demonstrated a path towards acquiring a meaningful number of users and competing in a space where Google is synonymous with search. In so doing we rejected some of the more expensive assumptions, which I think you could do in other areas as well.
How much time/money did it take for the first cut of the engine to go out to public?
I founded DuckDuckGo in February 2008 in Valley Forge, PA (USA). To release the first version took less than $5000 — not including my time !.
What was the biggest problem you wanted to solve through DuckDuckGo?
Our grand vision is to get people information faster with less mental effort. Initially the focus was on reducing spam – all those irrelevant results you see (often with just ads and little actual content) – and in using more structured information like Wikipedia to give you answers with zero clicks.
Chrome has a large browser share now Â does it make it more difficult to get users to shift from Google?
Google is the default in Android, iOs, and on all the major browsers expect IE. Users rarely switch their default preferences, which makes it difficult to get them to switch to DuckDuckGo. We encourage users to try us for a couple of weeks and then set us the default or use our extensions.
What is your biggest concern regarding growth? Could DuckDuckGo go viral among its users?
Our biggest concern is that most users aren’t aware of us or to what extent their personal information is being collected through their use of Google, analyzed and used for targeted ads across multiple sites and even offline. DuckDuckGo mostly spreads through Word of mouth.
Tell us about your team.
The DuckDuckGo team is an awesome collection of employees, investors, contractors and open source volunteers. DuckDuckGo HQ is in Paoli, PA, USA, but we also have people scattered across the world.
Check out special DuckDuckGo Goodies. “Goodies are special search queries that give you instant answers on top.”
Watch DuckDuckGo in action