Growing Internet Search Engine DuckDuckGo Calls Chester County “Home”
Monday, May 5th 2014
The Paoli-based internet search engine DuckDuckGo, has seen its popularity skyrocket to more than 1 billion searches in 2013 following growing public concerns about privacy and tracking of personal information and online habits. Last year was a watershed year for the company, which has carved out a privacy niche among search engines. The average number of daily searches increase from 1.6 million per day in May 2013 to more than 4 million per day by September 2013.
While DuckDuckGo is far from generating the number of searches that are handled by search giant Google, the company has taken notice and identifies DuckDuckgo as one of its competitors. The company, launched by entrepreneur Gabriel Weinberg in September 2008 out of his home, is on track for another record-breaking year after reaching 5 million direct searches in a single day in February 2014. Unlike its competitors, DuckDuckGo does not save and sell information about your search history to advertisers. But while privacy concerns may have helped to drive people to try DuckDuckGo, the fact that it doesn’t track users is only one facet of how the company differentiates itself from the competition.
As part of the VISTA 2025 initiative, a joint initiative of Chester County’s public and private sector to develop a 10-year economic development strategy, CCEDC will be highlighting the work of a range of Chester County companies like DuckDuckGo in the coming weeks and months.
DuckDuckGo prides itself on its simplicity, providing users with less clutter, less span, less ads and an overall cleaner design. Search results generated by DuckDuckGo do not limit users to a filter bubble. Results are the same for every person. Google tailors search results to each individual user based on the information they have aggregated about their interests. A DuckDuckGo search also provides users with instant answers to questions rather than a page of links to websites that may contain the answer. For example, if a user asks how old the President is or the number of calories in an apple, the answer is instantly computed and provided at the top of the engine’s search results.
“Entrepreneurs and innovators in Chester County come in all shapes and sizes and the internet search engine DuckDuckGo is a great example,” said Gary Smith, President and CEO of the Chester County Economic Development Council (CCEDC). “We are proud that company founder Gabriel Weinberg and his wife chose to make Chester County home for their family and for DuckDuckgo when he launched the company.
“As Chester County government and the CCEDC continue to work on VISTA 2025, tech companies and innovators that follow in the tradition of DuckDuckGo will be a major focus,” said Ryan Costello, Chairman of the Chester County Board of Commissioners and co-chair of the VISTA 2025 initiative. “Chester County has a lot to offer both families and businesses, providing an environment that fosters the spirit of entrepreneurism. We want to capitalize on our competitive advantages and highlighting the success of companies such as DuckDuckGo is part of that effort.”
DuckDuckGo founder Weinberg is no stranger to the tech world, having founded the NamesDatabase, which he sold to Classmates.com in 2006. As the concept of DuckDuckGo grew, Weinberg attracted support and funding from Union Square Ventures, the backers of a number of high-profile tech companies such as Twitter, Tumblr, Foursquare, and Kickstarter. The company, which Weinberg says he likes to run “lean”, now has 20 employees, a number of whom work from remote locations throughout the world.
Born in Washington, DC but raised in Atlanta, Weinberg earned a B.S. in Physics and an M.S. in Technology & Policy from MIT. After selling his website NamesDatabase to Classmates.com in 2006, Weinberg and his wife decided to relocate from the Boston-area to the Philadelphia suburbs.
In a 2012 profile, the Washington Post noted that being a millionaire in his 20s and recently married gave Weinberg and his wife options for where they wanted to live and raise a family. They wanted to live in a suburban setting but “near the country” with access to open space, but also be able to send their children to a diverse school system. Weinberg told The London Telegraph that he and his wife, a New York-born statistician, “narrowed their search down by crunching census data to find a place with good weather, but that also has an ‘educated population’, was prosperous and had good schools.” Based on that search criteria and with the option of being able to locate anywhere in the country, they settled on Chester County and on a home within walking distance of Valley Forge National Park.
About VISTA 2025
VISTA 2025, an initiative to develop a strategy to guide economic development efforts in Chester County for the next 10 years, was launched in February 2014 by the county’s Board of Commissioners, the CCEDC and more than 40 local businesses and organizations. The guiding philosophy of VISTA 2025 is to maintain a balance between progress and preservation — ensuring continued economic prosperity while protecting the valuable natural resources that define Chester County.
VISTA 2025 is currently in the discovery phase – which includes assembling statistical data on the Chester County economy and engaging focus groups. To date, meetings and sessions have been held with 11 focus groups representing a variety of industry sectors. The initial finding of the VISTA 2025 will be released this summer for public review.