DuckDuckGo CEO: Tracking Unncecessary To Make a Profit

DuckDuckGo's CEO explained that tracking isn't actually necessary to make a profit in the world of search engines in an AMA recently.

DuckDuckGo, a privacy focused search engine, has announced that it is now profitable, despite not tracking users’ search history and online activity.

Gabriel Weinberg, the company’s CEO, explained in an AMA (ask me anything) on YCombinator’s Hacker News what differentiates his search engine from the other big guys, namely in the area of data collection.

“DuckDuckGo is actually profitable. It is a myth you need to track people to make money in web search,” Weinberg explained, “Most of the money is still made without tracking people by showing you ads based on your keyword, i.e. type in ‘car’ and get a car ad.”

Weinberg believes that the biggest factor to DuckDuckGo’s sudden and huge growth is the NSA documents depicting the extent of mass surveillance online, released by Edward Snowden a few years ago. He says there was another spike in traffic after Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) changed its privacy policy in 2012, increasing tracking across all of its services.

A Pew Research study revealed just how big the relationship is between how privacy-conscious a user is and how much information they knew about government surveillance. Unsurprisingly, there was a significant jump in attention paid to privacy when the user had heard more about surveillance. This is DuckDuckGo’s target audience: those who care about their privacy and are looking for ways to protect it.

Those Who Have Heard “a Lot” About Government Surveillance Hold Stronger Views About Certain Data Retention LimitsSurveillance can be a very polarizing topic: Some people surveyed said that widespread surveillance would provide enough safety to warrant the greater restrictions on privacy. On the other hand, another significant portion found the revelations “deeply troubling”, and supported efforts to combat surveillance.

“When asked about search engine providers, online video sites, social media sites and online advertisers, the majority felt ‘not too confident’ or ‘not at all confident’ that these entities could protect their data,” explained the report’s authors.

This insecurity is the attitude that DuckDuckGo is trying to appeal to, and it definitely seems to be working.


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Daniel Heppner
Daniel Heppner
My big interests are photography, IT, and electronics. I like to get out the soldering iron and build things for my house that light up. I've traveled around the world taking pictures and consider the viewfinder an extension of my eyeball. I build computers for myself and friends for fun, and have experience with software programming. I have experience programming underwater robots for robotics competitions, as well as wiring up the circuitry for them.


  1. All search on Internet engines are dead.
    Oracle killed SQL, which all of them use!
    Oracle began to calculate weights!