Brave takes on Google with privacy-focused search engine

Linked on March 8, 2021

In other non-Texas news, last week Brave announced it had acquired a search engine product and is focused on relaunching it as a privacy-first competitor to Google.

Stephen Shankland, writing for CNET, has some details:

The startup hopes to pay users for seeing the ads, like it does with its flagship browser. Brave’s existing browser-based ad system pays 70% of ad revenue to Brave users who opt into the system, called Brave Rewards.

“If we get to that promised land of our own automated search ad system, then we will give the user at least what we make,” Chief Executive Brendan Eich said.

The ad system is a cool concept and I hope it catches on.

Brave is unlikely to dethrone Google search anytime soon. But Tailcat could show there is room for financial success with a business that puts privacy first. The Brave browser has grown steadily since its initial release in 2016. Eich forecast Brave will have as many as 50 million monthly users at the end of the year, double the 25 million users it has now. It doesn’t release financial information, but its revenue has grown by a factor of 28 over the last 16 months and it now employs 115 people.

I don’t think “dethroning” Google is (or should be) the goal here. A small percentage of the search market could be a massive business. And if one company shows that doing so in a private user-focused way is a successful venture, then others will follow. I’d argue that DuckDuckGo is already doing this quite well, so hopefully Brave is continuing the trend. More choices in search, and more choices that respect privacy are good things.