Monday, June 20, 2022 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Kagi Search and Orion Browser Public Betas

Kagi (Hacker News):

I (Vladimir Prelovac, Founder) started this company when I saw my children starting using the web and realized how unsafe and bad an experience it was for them. All the ads and distractions were not only detrimental to their experience but also were influencing their behavior and habits from a very young age. No alternatives exist or the ones that I tried were not good enough. I have spent the last four years bootstrapping this project, with a small team and building tools to make using the web decent again.

[…]

Today Kagi search and Orion browser enter public beta.

[…]

Kagi search comes as a free version with limited use; and an unlimited use paid option at $10 a month, both completely ad-free, tracking free, and with no search data being retained.

$10/month is not too much for the user to pay if it’s really great, but I don’t see how that can be sustainable for Kagi if it only pays their costs for 2–3 searches per day. Do most users, of the type that would pay for something like this, search far less than I do?

I’m not really sure how to think about the privacy angle. It sounds great, but—as with other search engines—you have no way to know whether they do what they say. The business model doesn’t incentivize them to track you, but how can they improve their algorithms if they truly don’t retain any data? And if they wanted to—or were compelled to—track people, it would arguably be worse than Google because they have your billing information so they know who you are. I’m not saying there’s anything particular to worry about here, just that I would not assume that any Web searches from your own device are fully private.

Anyway, I’m giving Kagi search a try and will report back. So far it definitely seems to have fewer spammy results. Mainly, though, I want to be able to find pages that don’t show up in Bing or Google at all, which is a tall order considering that it doesn’t have its own full index of the Web.

FAQ:

Kagi Search already has many unique features, like personalized results and “Lenses”. And because we depend only on our users for revenue, Kagi can and will always offer a much richer search experience for the user.

[…]

We use heuristics and deep learning to understand query intent, select the best information sources, query them directly using APIs, and rank the results. You can think of Kagi as a “search client,” working like an email client, connecting to indexes and sources to find relevant results and package them into a superior, secure and privacy-respecting search experience for you.

Our searching includes anonymized requests to traditional search indexes like Google and Bing as well as vertical sources like Wikipedia and DeepL or other APIs. We also have our own non-commercial index (Teclis), news index (TinyGem), and an AI for instant answers.

[…]

Kagi features a ‘login token’ which is simply a URL parameter that you can use to automatically log you into your existing Kagi session, from anywhere, including using search within private browser sessions. You can visit Account settings to get your login token.

Vladimir Prelovac:

Kagi doesn’t need a lot of users, because as I said, we are not a Google killer. Google has a huge moat, and a 20 year headstart, and the web is now much harder to crawl than it was 20 years ago, so we will probably never have Google scale, but we don’t need it.

We are trying to build a sustainable business for a small subset of users who think differently. We just need a couple of tens of thousands of such users to be sustainable, and that’s our first milestone.

[…]

The non-commercial indices can have a big impact on the quality of results since it helps us avoid spam, SEO optimized content, and pages riddled with ads. It also allows us to get expert opinions from small websites and personal blogs.

Vladimir Prelovac:

Maybe it will sound strange, but I do not think of our goal as optimizing for growth and number of users. It is to optimize for sustainability and quality of product.

See also: Why Google is so unbearable (and how to fix it) (via Hacker News).

Previously:

6 Comments

It's weird to see the brand and the domain name resurrected again, under a completely different ownership and business.

I sold my first Mac apps via Kagi, starting around 1999 or so, before moving on to other reseller services years later as e-commerce picked up steam. A bit of fondness and heartbreak in there. Backstory of its ultimate demise, for those who weren't around: https://tidbits.com/2016/08/04/kagi-shuts-down-after-falling-prey-to-fraud/

It's funny that the first "free search" they provide is "best laptop", which provides terrible results, like ranking a 2017 article on marco.org at the top, and then mostly having reviews of various MacBooks. There is no comparison of current laptops on the results page that I can find.

"...I don’t see how that can be sustainable for Kagi..."

It's the 2020's, man! The way software works is:

1. Build a neat tool
2. Offer it for free/cheap
3. Try to get lots of users
4. Try to get rescued by VC money
5. Raise prices drastically
6. Write tearful letter about shutting down the company
7. Walk away with lots of money
8. GOTO 1

"Sustainable" means you drove a Tesla to Starbucks, and brought your own cup.

@Ted

Also in the 2020s, fallacious arguments continue to be made by equivocation of business model sustainability and ecological sustainability.

Anna: In the long run, you can't have one without the other.

For the mere duration of a single lifetime, many humans are selfish enough not to care about either side of this coin.

Stay up-to-date by subscribing to the Comments RSS Feed for this post.

Leave a Comment