My guest today is Sridhar Ramaswamy, co-founder and CEO of Neeva and Venture Partner at Greylock. After a 15-year career building Google’s ad business, Sridhar launched Neeva as an ad-free search engine with a focus on personalization and privacy. During our conversation, we dive into the early days of search and what led to Google’s dominance. Sridhar shares his view on the potential end state for ad-based search engines, and how all of his experiences led him to found Neeva. Beyond a great deep dive into the origins of search, this discussion is filled with great lessons about data-driven decisions, the value of partnerships, and balancing revenue opportunities against user experience. I hope you enjoy my conversation with Sridhar Ramaswamy.
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[00:03:39] - [First question] - Major chapters of the history of search engine technology
[00:09:21] - The early days of the page rank revenue model prior to ads
[00:16:27] - Reputation and quality and how they were applied in Google’s early days
[00:21:10] - Driving variables of Google’s ad model that will drive their business going forward
[00:26:48] - Lessons learned about the importance of partnerships while at Google
[00:33:26] - What is Neeva and what motivated him to start it in the first place
[00:39:11] - Variables in building an ad-free search engine that can compete with Google
[00:44:57] - Thoughts on tracking and privacy in the tech world today writ large
[00:50:09] - Lessons he’s learned about pricing when it comes to software
[00:52:58] - Figuring out finding customers when your addressable market is everyone
[00:56:20] - What he’s learned about leadership over the course of his career writ large
[00:58:05] - What he’s learned about identifying candidates and winning them over when it comes to recruiting new talent
[01:00:27] - His philosophy on product development in general
[01:02:19] - Framing problems in a way that allows you to reach milestones as you build
[01:04:43] - His biggest professional mistake and what he learned from it
[01:06:08] - The kindest thing that anyone has ever done for him
[01:07:49] - What Bill Campbell brings to mind when he thinks about him