Salesforce CEO Benioff invests in search engine startup You.com

You. com, a startup looking to challenge Alphabet’s Google by developing a more customizable search engine, announced Tuesday a $ 20 million investment led by Salesforce’s venture fund. com boss Marc Benioff.

Venture capitalists had avoided endorsing Google competitors for years because they dominated internet search in most parts of the world.

But growing consumer privacy concerns and renewed antitrust scrutiny of Google by regulators in the United States and elsewhere have left some investors with an opportunity.

“We are at a critical turning point in the history of the Internet and we must take steps to restore confidence on the Internet,” Benioff said in a press release. He called You.com “the future of search”.

Mr. Benioff’s involvement in the startup includes the transfer of the You.com domain name, which he has owned since the 1990s.

Neither he nor the startup commented on the terms of the URL exchange, and it wasn’t clear if the transfer was part of the overall investment. In addition to Mr. Benioff’s Time Ventures, other investors include Breyer Capital, Sound Ventures and Day One Ventures.

Founded last year by two former top AI scientists at Salesforce, You.com allows users to set preferred websites. For example, users looking to get information from Reddit and Yelp would see rows of search results from those services before links from the broader web.

According to co-founder and CEO Richard Socher, You.com will not track users on the web or sell “non-private ads”. He added that the company doesn’t log searches and clicks when users choose incognito mode.

The startup aims to collect fees for facilitating transactions such as ordering meals or booking flights, and wants to help other publishers generate income from ads embedded in search results.

New antitrust rules would help You.com grow, Socher said, adding that popular browsers owned by Apple and Google in the name of security are making it difficult for users to replace Google as the default search. – Reuters

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