DuckDuckGo (DDG) is privately owned. Indeed as reported by Crunchbase, it received $13 million in funding from several investors, comprising Union Square Ventures (led by Fred Wilson). DuckDuckGo’s business model proposes itself as an alternative to Google’s business model. Therefore while it might be an option for Google to purchase DDG to reduce the competitive pressure from privacy-based search engines, this is off the table as of now.
Might DuckDuckGo be acquired by Google in the future?
To answer this question, let’s go back for a second at how these two business models work.
Where Google makes money primarily via targeted advertising (the search engine collects many data points across various devices also thanks to Android and its Google Chrome browser, as the users navigate the web).
As contextual data (like location or keyword search) is collected to serve ads, it is thrown on the fly. As you can imagine, this business model might be highly inefficient as it makes it hard for DDG to build so-called “data moats” or data network effects (network effects on the tool as it scales because it gains more and more data from existing users so that it can refine further its results for future users).
This deficiency for DuckDuckGo business model is well paid off by the fact that an exponentially growing number of users are willing to take a tool which might not be as advanced than Google, yet it is privacy-based.
Going forward, as digital advertising is evolving in the direction of more privacy-focused tracking, also DuckDuckGo will benefit from it , thus becoming even more valuable.
In that scenario a potential take over from Google (Alphabet) might not be as farsighted.
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