One of Canada's largest pension funds is leading a $10 million investment in DuckDuckGo, the Paoli-based internet search site that doesn't store or share user data.
DuckDuckGo announced Tuesday a partnership with OMERS Ventures, the venture capital arm of the pension plan for Ontario's municipal employees. OMERS Ventures will have a non-controlling share of the privacy-centric internet company, DuckDuckGo CEO Gabriel Weinberg wrote in an email.
DuckDuckGo, a small but fierce Google competitor, says it plans to use the investment to expand its global presence, specifically in Canada.
"We are hiring globally, better tuning our search engine results for local markets, and expanding the channels we use to market DuckDuckGo to have more of a global focus," Weinberg wrote.
DuckDuckGo has now raised $13 million in capital since launching in 2008. The only other institutional investor is Union Square Ventures, based in New York, Weinberg said.
DuckDuckGo, with 51 employees, has seen its search traffic continue to grow this year. The site says it is used for nearly 24 million searches a day, up from 16.7 million in August 2017. Still, the company has just a sliver of the desktop/laptop search engine market – 0.22 percent in July – compared with Google's 73.36 percent share, according to Netmarketshare.com.
DuckDuckGo contrasts itself with the data-vacuuming search giant Google. The company's primary business model is "private keyword-based advertising," in which DuckDuckGo shows users ads based on the keywords typed in, without knowing anything else about consumers.
"Every time you search on DuckDuckGo, it is as if you were there for the first time — anonymous," Weinberg wrote.
Launched in 2011, OMERS Ventures says it has invested more than $340 million in nearly 30 disruptive technology companies across North America. The Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System is one of Canada's largest pension funds, with more than $95 billion in net assets.