DuckDuckGo going straight up

Search engine aggregator-turned-privacy-paragon DuckDuckGo logs meteoric growth in the wake of NSA revelations

DuckDuckGo, widely lauded as the largest search engine that protects your privacy by design, has just hit an average 4 million daily searches, so far in September. That's up from a 1.6 million average in March, and 1.4 million in September 2012 -- much more than doubling its average in six months and almost tripling it year-over-year.

The NSA revelations haven't been bad for everyone in the industry.

Of course that's a very tiny drop in the big bit bucket: ComScore reports that Google sites had 12.8 billion "explicit core searches" in August, or more than 400 million per day. Microsoft sites had 3.4 billion (about 100 million per day), and Yahoo had 2.2 billion (70 million per day).

Even though the DuckDuckGo numbers are small by comparison, it's comforting to know that almost 1 percent of searchers would rather keep their search terms private.

DuckDuckGo started as a search engine aggregator -- you type your search terms into DuckDuckGo, and it goes out and retrieves results from "about 50" search engines, mashing the results together and presenting them to you. By design, DuckDuckGo doesn't collect or store any personal information about you, and it doesn't send your information to the sites it scrapes. That lack of privacy gouging has become DuckDuckGo's biggest selling point. Simple, elegant, and by all appearances jimmy- (or at least NSA-) proof.

In July, Timothy Lee at the Washington Post ran an intriguing interview with DuckDuckGo's founder, Gabriel Weinberg. He talks about competing with the big boys. For a guy who founded (and still runs) the company in Paoli, Pa. -- and hired its first employee in 2011 -- DuckDuckGo, now at 20 employees, has hit exponential growth. Its primary advertising expense, as best I can tell, is a billboard in Silicon Valley.

Union Square Ventures and a handful of individuals provided a first round of venture capital last October, although the amount was never publicly disclosed. It'll be interesting to see what happens next.

This story, "DuckDuckGo going straight up," was originally published at Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow on Twitter.

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