DuckDuckGo: Gabriel Weinberg on the Future of the Search Engine That Doesn’t Track You

In this blog, you will find anything you need to know about DuckDuckGo as I’ve been spending quite some time researching this topic. Two things fascinate me about DuckDuckGo. First, the ability of DuckDuckGo’s CEO and founder Gabriel Weinberg to compete in a market, like that of search, which is mainly dominated by a few players (Google, Yahoo, Yandex and Bing just to mention a few). Of those players though, Google has the monopoly.

I know it might sound counterintuitive to talk about a monopoly, yet if we take the data from GS stat counter for good, Google – as of December 2017 – has a mobile search engine market share of 94.96%. With Google wild dominance it is also hard to imagine a different business model from the one that Google itself has created.

In fact, the search engine from Mountain View has been so good in making sure to give us the best search results, that most people don’t picture Google as the most profitable ad network in the world!

That opens up another crucial aspect. DuckDuckGo’s story tells us that another business model for search is possible. In fact, DuckDuckGo does monetize through advertising. However, this is only based on keywords that have a certain intent. For instance, if I search “car insurance” chances are I’m looking to purchase one. That is how DuckDuckGo will show an advertising. In addition and that is the critical point, it will do so without tracking me.

On occasion of the launch of DuckDuckGo Mobile App, Gabriel Weinberg took the chance to answer questions on Quora. I’m going to analyze a few of those answers to understand also how the future will unfold for DuckDuckGo:

What’s the next big thing that you think will happen to DuckDuckGo in the near future?

After ten years of search, we just expanded beyond the search box to help people protect their privacy no matter where they go on the Internet. More details here

By Gabriel Weinberg on Quora

It seems clear that privacy is the primary mission of the company also for the near future. What does this imply? No doubt DuckDuckGo has had privacy as a primary concern since the start. It is also true that at this stage privacy is also the main propeller for its business growth as I explain more in detail below:

DuckDuckGo: When privacy becomes a trigger for growth

I also took the opportunity to ask him a couple of questions:

In the future where voice search is taking off. How will DDG evolve?

While voice search is taking off, mobile search and desktop search are still actually increasing (see Lindy effect, mental model). Nevertheless, we would like to find a way to help people search privately on voice search platforms.

By Gabriel Weinberg on Quora

What does it all mean?

The Lindy Effect: Why in technology old is bold!

Is an interesting concept. Based on an idea of the American author and academic Albert Goldman. The Lindy Effect expresses a simple yet powerful principle. In fact, it introduces the distinction between the way perishable and non-perishable things evolve. On the one hand, perishable things life expectancy decreases over time. On the other hand, for non-perishable things life expectancy increases the older they get. For instance, if you take two people, a young man in his 30s and an old fellow in his 80s, there’s no doubt that the former has more chances to outlive the latter. Instead, when it comes to technology, the opposite is true. Therefore, since desktop and mobile have existed for way longer than voice search, they will also be with us for at least another decade or two. Therefore, before you go all in with voice search, make sure you keep in mind what the Lindy Effect tells you.

What growth strategy will DDG use to further expand its user base?

Our biggest challenge by far in terms of adoption is cost-effectively getting the word about what we are doing. Our research shows that a large percentage of people are seeking solutions to protect their privacy online, and yet most of these people unfortunately still don’t know we exist.

By Gabriel Weinberg on Quora

DuckDuckGo is growing at faster and faster pace. In fact, just in the last months, it has surpassed record after record as you can see from its traffic daily average estimates:


Just in the month if January DuckDuckGo has consistently surpassed twenty million daily direct average queries. Yet if we compare it with over five billion search queries going through Google, the ratio is of 1 to 234. In short, for each question on DuckDuckGo, there are at least 234 going through Google.

However, as reported by DuckDuckGo Blog among U.S. adults, 24% of the population takes significant actions to protect their privacy. Thus, there is a reason to believe that those people would be willing to become consistent DuckDuckGo users. In fact, one of the hardest factors for a new player coming into a market dominated by others is to convince regular users of their service to switch. Apparently, privacy seems an excellent reason to switch as showed by DuckDuckGo survey below:


That is also confirmed by the fact that DuckDuckGo traffic appears to swing upward when people’s concern for privacy raises. In other words, the more people learn about online tracking and how it works and the more they might become concerned about it. In fact, if in the past most users wouldn’t know how search engines like Google worked, now people are becoming more aware, and this opens up new growth opportunities for DuckDuckGo.

I’d like to close the article on a personal note from Gabriel Weinberg:

What do you do for yourself to be happy?

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Gennaro Cuofano

Creator of | Head of Business Development at | International MBA

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