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You.com search challenges Google with a new look and private mode

Backers include Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, a big name in tech. The site pulls data from Microsoft's Bing, Twitter, Reddit and other sources.

You.com search engine
You.com is a search engine challenging Google's dominance.

A new search engine called You.com is challenging Google's dominance with a promise of better privacy and more elaborate results. The startup launched its service Tuesday with $20 million in funding from venture capital firms and a big name in tech, Salesforce Chief Executive Marc Benioff.

You.com, now in public beta testing, won't sell your personal information, track you online or show you targeted ads, the company says. You can perform searches in a personal mode that can be customized for your preferences and that logs things like unsuccessful searches that need to be improved, or in a private mode that records nothing, the company said. 

The search engine presents results in a grid of tiles that separates information based on search types, such as websites, YouTube videos, images, tweets, TikToks, and posts on Reddit and LinkedIn. In addition to those sources, it relies on Microsoft's Bing search engine for many of its results. You.com is also letting developers write extensions to further curate search results.

"Our innovative interface ... lets users interact with content by swiping up left and right and moving sources up and down based on preferences. We think it's important to give users real agency through explicit personalization and customization," said Richard Socher, You.com chief executive and a natural language processing researcher who was Salesforce's former chief scientist. He co-founded the startup along with former Salesforce AI leader Bryan McCann.

You.com joins a growing list of small companies willing to take on search giant Google, which accounts for 92% of searches worldwide, according to analytics firm StatCounter. DuckDuckGo, Brave, Ecosia and StartPage all promise better privacy. Many of these companies use Microsoft's Bing behind the scenes, and none of them has significantly dented Google's dominance.

Google employs its users' personal information for targeted advertising but is trying to adapt to increasing privacy sensitivity. It offers tips on private searches, too. 

"We build search for everyone, and studies have consistently found that Google delivers the highest quality information of any search engine. Ads help us keep search free and accessible for people around the world," Google said in a statement. "We respect and protect people's privacy with industry-leading security infrastructure and responsible data practices. We ... build controls so people can choose the privacy settings that are right for them."

With antitrust regulators eyeing Google's business, it's arguably a good time to launch a rival search engine. Google cross-promotes its own projects, for example setting Google as the default search engine in its Chrome browser and on its Android phone software. It also exhorts people using Google search, Gmail, Google Docs and other properties to switch their browser to Chrome.


You.com presents search results as tiles users can swipe through to refine those results.