A Brand New DuckDuckGo

Our portfolio company DuckDuckGo launched a new version yesterday. Gabe wrote a short post explaining what’s new.

DuckDuckGo is on a tear and tripled direct searches in the past year.

DDG traffic

There are a number of reasons why more and more people turn to DuckDuckGo to do their searches. First and foremost, it’s DDG’s privacy promise:

We don’t collect or share personal information.

But it also the fact that DDG is getting better and better every day. Through DuckDuckHack, anyone can make DDG better. And it is a lot better these days.

I have used DDG as my default search engine on all of my desktop browsers since before we made our investment in the fall of 2011. I would love to do the same on my mobile browsers but cannot do that yet. I used to use the !g extension on DDG searches to route them to Google at least 33% of the time. I find that I am doing that less than 20% of the time now. It may not be possible to do search better than google, but if DDG can do private search almost as good as Google, I think that will turn into a very significant business in time. It already is looking like that’s the case.


Comments (Archived):

  1. John Best

    It’s my search engine of choice too. I agree that the !g/!b are less necessary now than they were this time a year ago. I really missed an image search function, so the inclusion in the new ver gets a big thumbs up from me, as does the embedded browser addon link. Very slick.

  2. Humberto

    in your last post about DDG i was unconvinced, but have since been using it on-off. thumbs up for the new version!

    1. fredwilson


  3. Mac

    Adopted DDG the day you first introduced it. Use it exclusively without a second thought. I think the word I’m looking for is: ubiquitousCongrats to Gabe and the DDG team. Thanks again, Fred

  4. awaldstein

    Note to self–give this a serious try.

    1. fredwilson

      you can change it to your default search engine now right from their home page by clicking on the + button at the bottom of their home page

      1. awaldstein

        Will do Fred.I’m working on a new client project in a somewhat new sector so a great time to put it through its paces this weekend.

  5. JimHirshfield

    I remember you sharing that graph in early to mid 2012 where that first hockey stick is. Looks like a little bump now.Help us understand how DDG fits into the USV network model?

    1. fredwilson

      in DDG’s case, they leverage an open source model where anyone can improve the search engine using DuckDuckHackopen source efforts are network based models to improving products

      1. JimHirshfield

        Got it. And the benefit of those efforts accrues to all.

        1. fredwilson


  6. Tom Labus

    How do they make money?

    1. fredwilson

      advertisingbut the ads are not targeted with any saved or stored personal information

      1. JimHirshfield

        Old skool

      2. SS

        Do you think non targeted advertising will have edge over the long run? Would love to see some research between targeted and non targeted advertising. Privacy is fashionable now, but might be viewed as a reversionary effect historically.

        1. SubstrateUndertow

          I don’t think I’ve ever bought anything via targeted ads.But I have often noticed that after researching a product on Amazon reviews ads for those products have follow me around like toilet paper stuck to the bottom of my shoe 🙂

          1. SS

            Of course, it doesn’t work in every individual case, but does it work on average? In all my life, I have probably clicked on 5 google Ads, but google still makes money 😉

      3. Kirsten Lambertsen

        I might be a heretic, but I think personalized ads generally suck. I think contextual ads are better.I did a search for ‘platform sneakers’ … is the ‘more at Amazon’ stuff at the top monetized?

  7. William Mougayar

    Especially when you get frustrated with a Google search, go to DDG. They clear the mud around search results that aren’t gamed by SEO tricks.

    1. JimHirshfield

      That’s a great point. Lots of SEO filler to be avoided in DDG?

    2. awaldstein

      Are you saying that as a content provider there is nothing to do to optimize your content to be found?Sounds unlikely and if so, what are the methodologies for rankings then?

      1. William Mougayar

        Good content will get found. I don’t write for SEO keywords. I write for the topic. It will get found if it’s relevant to someone.

        1. awaldstein

          “Write it and it will get found. Build it and they will come.”You are like the Nietzche of marketing, declaring that ‘SEO IS DEAD”Makes me smile 😉

          1. SubstrateUndertow

            Well to be fair, qualify/focused content is the SEO component I value most. Then there’s “About” 🙁

          2. awaldstein

            I’m not clear what you are saying–sorry.SEO ain’t what it used to be clearly and no one drives their business alone as we all did at one time.But to state that there is no intent to get found by the search engines is to reduce marketing to just being non chalantly interesting which is wacko.

          3. Abdallah Al-Hakim

            What do you advice your clients when it comes to SEO. Should it be a major focus for an organization? Obviously being found via organic search is critical but debates like the one above makes it confusing when it comes to strategy.

          4. awaldstein

            SEO is never my first consideration. But for certain types of businesses, large ecommerce catalogs especially, it’s important.Sure writing with keywords in mind is not what it was but template organization and tags do drive impact when you have hundreds of thousands of pages–not that uncommon across mid to larger tier commerce sites.My friend William ss a really smart thinker and he is right, great content matters. But I don’t think that not taking advantage of the mechanics of the web is advisable at least on a structural level for certain types of sites and businesses.I wrote this post on this a while back. Still holds what I believe:–>Coming to terms with search in a social world http://awe.sm/r6frXTrust that clarifies a bit.

          5. William Mougayar

            right. quality content will get found. consistency pays off too.

          6. William Mougayar

            kind of.

          7. awaldstein

            I’m feeling challenged by this so I thank you for the prod.Reached out to the experts in my post above to see if indeed things have changed more because in essence, on rereading it, we do agree on some core pieces.

          8. Abdallah Al-Hakim

            I found your article useful – Thank you. I think one of the key points missed by many companies trying to improve SEO is the sheer volume of content that needs to be produced in order to start seeing tangible and sustainable traffic growth. Generating 2-3 blog posts a week is probably not enough and it is more like you need 15-20 new content a week to start building the foundation. Definitely social has a part to play in this by improving the ‘likeablity’ of certain content and this is where the integrated marketing approach needs to be tight.

    3. Ciaran

      Which will change as and when it gets any real scale. It presumably had some sort of ranking algo which can be reverse engineered if the business case I’d there to do so

  8. Niv Dror

    Excited to give this a try! Will install as default on secondary browser – which I think is necessary – otherwise Google is too much of a habit to break.

  9. Niv Dror

    Enough people mistrust Google for DuckDuckGo to have a big enough market. The privacy part is the differentiator. Bing is good enough… But why actively choose it over Google? (i.e. many people do, but it has more to do with not knowing how to change the bundled default). With that being said…The world of search is wide open. When it comes to App Search – we’re still in the pre-PageRank days!

    1. LE

      Enough people mistrust Google for DuckDuckGo to have a big enough market.To most normals the privacy issue is a non issue. Not even close to being on their radar in any significant numbers. Not talking about hackers in the Netherlands or people who whine on Hacker News.Not to mention the fact that if you are talking privacy from government nothing is reasonably able to prevent any government agency from being able to take advantage of the search stream going to duckduckgo.com if they want to. We have no way of knowing if they are doing that or not already, right?

  10. Shaun Dakin

    Good news.Shaun Dakin Founder @PrivacyCamp

  11. Johanna Santos Bassetti

    Thank you for funding this.

  12. Lucky

    What about mobile real time search? Any thoughts on that and how we can do that better ? What do you think about mobli and their live camera ?

  13. pointsnfigures

    my default search engine for some time. have had to use Google once in awhile-especially for images which I think DDG takes care of in this update.

  14. andyswan

    Tough because Google makes my phone email calendar and navigation work. There’s value to the data collection they do.I like DDG a lot I just either forget to use it or don’t mind the collection… Not sure which

    1. aminTorres

      I love DDG as well, huge fan in fact and these new updates and implementations are brilliant but feel the same about forgetting to use it.I think for more people to make the switch all entirely they will need to continue to branch out beyond search. One big reason why I kept going back to google after defaulting my search to DDG was the fact that image search was not in place.Now that they have image search, they are little by little winning me as a costumer. Overtime the no collecting of data will become more of an added bonus as supposed to a main reason no to use other search engines.Overall they are going about this the right way, they are making search smarter.I do wish they moved faster. Not sure how big the DDG team is but doubling or tripling their deployment rate with smart and thoughtful improvements and additions to their software will lead to big conversions for them.

  15. Salt Shaker

    Privacy matters, but isn’t non targeted adv a tough sell with agencies? Hard to know what you’re buying. Efficiencies matter too. Sold as remnant with very, very low cpm, but can still win w/ tonnage and low overhead.

    1. fredwilson

      In search you can measure perfectly because you get the clickthrus to your landing pages

      1. Ciaran

        But that limits you to direct response and increasingly savvy advertisers are investing in attribution models which highlight that last click shouldn’t get all the value. Do you think you can eat into budgets with those factors in the rise?

      2. Salt Shaker

        CTR’s are generally low to begin with, but w/ out targeting capabilities won’t they likely be even lower via DDG? I know you get what you pay for, but if DDG delivers comparatively lower rates, advertisers, particularly blue chips, may decide it’s not worth the effort. Nonetheless, DDG may be a bottom feeders delight, and potentially quite profitable w/ managed infrastructure.

        1. fredwilson

          It is amazing what DDG gets done for the little they spend

          1. PhilipSugar

            This is the future.

  16. JaredMermey

    I like the idea that a product that is close enough to the market leader but has characteristic users prefer (i.e., privacy) will win. It is reminds me utility is cardinal and can include human subjectivity as an input.

  17. Ciaran

    What’s the business model? Advertising? Do you feel you can get that product as close to Google as you believe you can get the search one without capturing data?

    1. fredwilson

      Yes. Search ads. But not personalized because no stored data

  18. jason wright

    how much infrastructure does DDG have?

  19. Richard

    Is it the default search engine for the new black phone?

    1. fredwilson

      The new black phone?

      1. Richard

        By a company called SilentCircle. It’s all about privacy. See MIT’s Annual Article of top technologies of the Year.

        1. Matt A. Myers

          I’m guessing Fred’s going to be giving DDG a head’s up. 🙂

          1. Richard

            “It may not be possible to do search better than google”, then again maybe (with computer contextual intelligence) there is.

  20. Richard

    How much sleep do investors of DDG loose, due to the scenario where google adds an opt in feature making DDG obsolete ?

    1. fredwilson

      There are many things that I lose sleep over. That is not one of them. Doesn’t mean it won’t happen. I just don’t worry about it.

      1. pointsnfigures

        In startups, there always seems to be the danger of the giant kahuna putting in a feature to throttle the startup. But it rarely happens until it’s too late.

        1. andyswan

          That’s because companies don’t like to build something that might not work. They’d prefer to buy something that is proven to work. It makes sense if you think about it from a risk/reward perspective.

          1. pointsnfigures

            Heard a great story. One Fortune 500 exec said they’d invest 500 man hours in a computer project costing them millions, and people in the company felt like that was less risky than funding three startups and putting them on it.

    2. LE

      Might make more sense for google to operate that as a separate brand rather than wrap it into the existing product.Google owns duck.com (I’ve tried to buy it and trade for it) so they are all set to go on this one.

  21. kenberger

    uncanny where Snowden’s emergence fits into the graph’s timeline and in relation to USV’s investment. nice luck!

  22. kirklove

    !hashbangs rule. Yegg is the man. Go DuckDuckGoPS: Philly in da house yo!

    1. Gabriel Weinberg

      Thanks so much!

      1. Liban Mahamed

        Your search model is excellent I wonder could you guys add email feature with no spam That will make life easier Imagine email with no spam boxThe news options are good but add some more sports options

      2. PhilipSugar

        Go Paoli ! and Connestoga

  23. Steven Kane

    nice. hugely rooting for DDG.

  24. RichardF

    the interesting point you make for me is that you cannot add it into your mobile browser. It seems to me that mobile browsers without the ability to add extensions are moats. I know it’s stopping us developing some interesting product functionality (to us anyway!)

  25. Damien Hoffman

    What is the DDG of social networks? I think over time the pendulum will swing back toward privacy as a value proposition.

  26. LE

    I’ve made this point before several times as far as how from my informed perspective [1] it is a big mistake to use whois privacy when you are a legitimate business and not an individual who has a reason to protect their identity for safety or security reasons. Or a basement abortion clinic or some non profit with security concerns.Along those lines it bothers me that ddg has whois privacy on their record.Why should I trust that ddg is doing the right thing as they say they are when I don’t even know where they are located or who they are? [2]Domain Name: DUCKDUCKGO.COMRegistry Domain ID: 1330407230_DOMAIN_COM-VRSNRegistrar WHOIS Server: whois.enom.comRegistrar URL: http://www.enom.comUpdated Date: 2012-01-04 10:09:43ZCreation Date: 2007-11-11 17:24:00ZRegistrar Registration Expiration Date: 2019-06-23 03:59:00ZRegistrar: ENOM, INC.Registrar IANA ID: 48Registrar Abuse Contact Email: [email protected] Abuse Contact Phone: +1.4252744500Reseller: NAMECHEAP.COMDomain Status: clientTransferProhibitedRegistry Registrant ID:Registrant Name: WHOISGUARD PROTECTEDRegistrant Organization: WHOISGUARD, INC.Registrant Street: P.O. BOX 0823-03411Registrant City: PANAMARegistrant State/Province: PANAMARegistrant Postal Code: NARegistrant Country: PARegistrant Phone: +507.8365503Registrant Phone Ext:Registrant Fax: +51.17057182Registrant Fax Ext:Registrant Email: [email protected][1] Feel free to tell me all that you read on the internet as far as why your whois record should be private so I can tell you why you are not correct for a legitimate operating business relative to the downside of doing so.[2] Of course I know it’s Gabriel Weinberg “yegg” and that they are in Chester County Pa. But how many people know this?http://www.cceconomicdevelohttps://duckduckgo.com/?q=w

  27. Liban Mahamed

    Duckduckgo is a prime example of Google,s vulnerability. A small change in internet ad structure could potentially wipe out the revenue model of Google.Dickduckgo combined Mozilla is great combination for home internet surfing Excellent level of privacy, no cookies involved and in my opinion the search results of Duckduckgo are as good as Google.You also have regulatory issues facing Google in Europe and maybe in the USA down the road.In my modest opinion of the 3 big tech companies Apple, Microsoft, and Google It is Google that has more uncertainty and problems coming in the short term (5-10years).

  28. LE

    Doing a search for myself (even through an anon proxy) on google [1] I come up as the first hit for me (so this strips out any location checking).On ddg I’m not appearing on (what I would consider) even the first page.In fact the ddg page brings up as the 2nd hit someone with a different spelling of my name who has an absolutely trivial page.That said what’s more amazing is that if you do a search on ddg for “usv” you get union square ventures as the 5th hit (and this was the case when I checked years ago). When you do a search for usv on google Union Square Ventures is the first hit. And for the life of me I can’t understand why the first ddg hit is what it is. (Screen shot attached).Added: And this is the 2nd hit on ddg for “usv”. Really hard to understand why this ranks higher than USV which obviously has a much wider footprint and interest than a local high school district in Ohio.http://www.usv.k12.oh.us/Perhaps yegg could explain why this is the case.[1] To strip out any cache or location data. In fact since the proxy was in the Netherlands the google search was on nl google fwiw.

    1. lonnylot

      I don’t know for sure, but I always assumed it was because Google results are tailored to you. Meaning my google results for a query are not necessarily your results for the same query. They can do this because they track you. DDG doesn’t track you so they can’t do this.

  29. howardlindzon

    really inspiring all around…

  30. ppearlman

    DDG = David Downs Goliath;)

  31. Kevin Pelgrims

    Hi Fred, you mention you miss DDG in your mobile browser, but have you tried the DDG app recently?

    1. fredwilson

      no. i didn’t like that i couldn’t search right from my home screen. the two step click then search really bugged me. i will try it again.

  32. deancollins

    go search for “BRK First Alert SC7010BV” and tell me you really prefer the DDG results…..

  33. Dasher

    Frankly speaking – DDG is solving a non existent problem for the vast majority – I do not see it as a Google killer. It may still do well with a niche set of users and be viable business.

  34. Dasher

    BTW Fred, awesome that you funded a Google competitor. Kudos and wish DDG much success.

  35. Twain Twain

    It’s useful to have a competitive benchmark but startups should just build THEIR magic rather than compete directly with the Googles, FBs etc.

  36. Peter Sugarman

    features that draws me back to google is email alert for topics that interest me and ability to search date ranges. Haven’t found how to do this on DDG; so while I use it, it’s not my default search engine

  37. jason wright


  38. jason wright

    but 10 became 11

  39. Aaron Klein

    They’ll be back. They just have to get their warrants updated.