How does DuckDuckGo make money? – DuckDuckGo’s Business Model

DuckDuckGo is an internet search engine that emphasizes protecting searchers’ privacy and avoiding the filter bubble of personalized results. Now, you might be wondering how DuckDuckGo generates revenue. In this article, learn more about how DuckDuckGo makes money and its business model.

What is DuckDuckGo?

DuckDuckGo is a search engine that does not use personal information to tailor your search results. It doesn’t use cookies and doesn’t collect your information. Your IP address is hidden when you use it. 

The search engine DuckDuckGo is a Google alternative, but with one big difference: it doesn’t track user information. Privacy experts praise the firm for not taking on the task of logging IP addresses or recording browsing histories.

When you use DuckDuckGo, your search results are not tailored to your browsing history. No ‘targeted’ ads are shown on the website. DuckDuckGo is a search engine that also scrapes content from other search engines. DuckDuckGo allows you to search for specific topics like “Eiffel Tower” and will show you more specific results than Google, such as the location of the Eiffel Tower or how tall it is.

The internet search engine handles 3 billion searches every month. That’s just the beginning. Beyond the main site, you can download the company’s mobile phone app (available on Android or iOS) and use it for privacy-focused browsing.

how does DuckDuckGo make money
FoundedSeptember 25, 2008
HeadquartersPaoli, Pennsylvania, U.S.
PeopleGabriel Weinberg
IndustrySearch Engine
Business TypePublic

How is it different from Google and Bing?


Google and Bing maintain a history of your search terms and share them with the site you’re visiting. When you visit a website, your computer automatically shares information so that it can identify you.

While other search engines are happy to leak your query to websites you visit, DuckDuckGo prevents this from happening by default. Instead, when you click on a link on the site it redirects that request in such a way so that other sites can’t see what search terms you entered beforehand or who you are.

DuckDuckGo offers an encrypted version of their search engine that automatically links to the encrypted versions of Wikipedia, Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon.

What does DuckDuckGo do?

Founded in 2008 by tech entrepreneur Gabriel Weinberg, DuckDuckGo is the only search engine with transparency at its core. With headquarters in Paoli, Pennsylvania, most of its 1,400-member workforce work remotely.

Weinberg’s passion for tech at such a young age is admirable. As he grew up, he realized he wanted to create a company that would compete with Google and not tracks user data for marketing purposes. He named his company “DuckDuckGo” after the popular children’s game, “Duck, Duck, Goose”.

Weinberg launched his search engine in 2008. Two years after its creation, Weinberg started to offer private searches for its users. As a way to advertise the platform, Weinberg bought a billboard in the San Francisco tech hub SOMA with the words “Google Tracks You. We Don’t.”

The PR stunt worked, and DuckDuckGo’s user traffic reached all-time highs. By 2011, DuckDuckGo was available in four European countries, and it was spreading across the globe.

How does DuckDuckGo make money?

DuckDuckGo makes money through private ads, affiliate commissions, keyword advertising and charging access fee to their radar tracking tool.

Keyword Advertising

The majority of DuckDuckGo’s income comes from advertising. Unlike other search engines, it doesn’t bombard you with ads based on your browsing history but instead adheres strictly to keywords. This means that searches for “car” will return ads for cars. 

DuckDuckGo does not work like other search engines. They do not show you ads based on your previous searches or other data – just on the word or phrase you have searched for. This means that their ads are based on the actual content of the page, rather than you or your browsing history. It’s an industry first.

DuckDuckGo features an auction system. If your brand wants to advertise on the site, you have to bid on the opportunity. The highest bidder is awarded the right to post a small advert on the left-hand side of DuckDuckGo’s homepage.

DuckDuckGo is the search engine that doesn’t believe in violating your privacy. If you’re tired of all of the targeted advertising, DuckDuckGo is the solution for you. They make most of their money off keyword advertising without violating your privacy. This search engine is here to help internet users realize that not all companies have to exploit your personal data to turn a profit.

how does DuckDuckGo make money

Tracker Radar

In 2020, DuckDuckGo launched their Tracker Radar program to help users see how third-party trackers have been tracking their online activity. With the Tracker Radar product, you can see continuous updates about what Facebook or Google is tracking from your browsing, shopping, and searching.

The DuckDuckGo tracker radar is a free tool that tells you what trackers are following your online activity. It also shows what platforms are tracking your behavior. The tracker radar is available to use for free. DuckDuckGo also offers a commercial version of the tool, which can be purchased at a cost to businesses.

Affiliate Commission

DuckDuckGo is a smaller company, but it still manages to bring in revenue. The company has two affiliate partnerships with Amazon and eBay, which pay them a small commission when you visit those sites through DuckDuckGo and make a purchase.

What is the Business Model of DuckDuckGo?

DuckDuckGo doesn’t store anyone’s personal information and takes utmost care of your search history. DuckDuckGo’s search engine creates a different kind of buzz. Once you use DuckDuckGo, your search history is on it.

DuckDuckGo is an alternative search engine that generates apps to protect your private stuff. Moreover, the company also earns revenue through advertisements and affiliate marketing. DuckDuckGo earns revenue by selling advertisements to other businesses based on the user’s interests. DuckDuckGo’s approach to advertising is a stark contrast to Google and Facebook. These two companies use their hyper-targeted advertising system to show ads for products that people have been very select with their searches or have “liked” on social media sites.

How much is DuckDuckGo worth? (Valuation and Revenue)

In the past two investment rounds, DuckDuckGo has raised a total of $13 million. Many investors have taken an interest in this company. Union Square Ventures, OMERS Ventures, and Scott Banister, founder of IronPort, are among the most prominent names.

As a private company, DuckDuckGo does not have to share any revenue or valuation figures. Nevertheless, we know that the company made over $100 million in revenue for 2020. Alphabet, the parent company of Google, is worth $1.35 trillion. For reference, it made roughly $183 billion in revenue over the same time span. This is ten times as much as DuckDuckGo would make if it had the same revenue.

Applying the same multiple to DuckDuckGo’s revenue, we can assume that the company has already reached a valuation of $1 billion, making it a startup unicorn.

YearRevenue
2018$25 Million
2020$100 Million

What is the founding history of DuckDuckGo?

DuckDuckGo is an internet search engine that was founded in 2008 by Gabriel Weinberg. It was created to provide people with the privacy they deserve. Weinberg started developing the search engine at a young age following his interest in technology. His parents’ businesses forced him to build various software applications, but he quickly realized the need for privacy.

Weinberg attended MIT in 1997, where he pursued a degree in physics. He also pursued various entrepreneurial endeavors, inventing things like an online order system for his mother and an online forum for his father to answer people’s questions about HIV and AIDS.

In 2003, Aaron enrolled at MIT to pursue a new degree in technology policy. He started his next company: NamesDatabase. He had experimented with search, and one part of this project involved typing in common names and seeing what would happen. Some of these pages would end up on the top of Google’s search results as people searching for friends or family with those names.

One of the ideas that became I’ve Got a Fang was to crowdsource authority sites on certain topics. The idea was that people-led curation would be a better indicator of quality than Google’s algorithms. The website, I’ve Got A Fang, received no traction and quickly shut down.

After Weinberg failed with I’ve Got a Fang, he decided to try his next idea: Tldscan. This was a series of websites that crawled the web for structured information and uploaded it in a condensed and readable format. Tldscan would attract as many as 50,000 visitors per day and generate as much as $500 in revenue. Google eventually blacklisted Tldscan, which forced Weinberg to shut it down.

DuckDuckGo, inspired by the children’s game Duck, Duck, Goose, launched in September 2008. In its early days, the search engine didn’t focus too much on privacy. Instead, as outlined by this article from 2008, it just made a twist on what it deemed a good search result.

After two years, Weinberg pivoted DuckDuckGo to be more privacy-oriented. In order to emphasize how much he cared about privacy, he put up a 4-week long billboard in San Francisco’s tech-heavy SOMA district which said “Google Tracks You. We Don’t.” This little PR stunt along with exposure on forums like Hacker News resulted in a 100 percent increase of DuckDuckGo’s traffic.

Key Statistics of DuckDuckGo

  • The number of DuckDuckGo searches is 71.9 billion and counting.
  • On an average day, DuckDuckGo sees 98.79 million daily searches.
  • Holding a 0.66% share of the world’s search engine market, DuckDuckGo is in 2nd place in the US with a 2.45% share.
how does DuckDuckGo make money

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