We are excited to welcome DuckDuckGo into the OMERS Ventures portfolio!
Over the last five years, issues of privacy and security in the digital world have become increasingly topical and controversial. In 2018, these concerns have risen to the forefront of public consciousness. Users are becoming more aware of their personal data and are increasingly concerned with protecting it. In response to public demand and data breaches such as the one involving Cambridge Analytica, governments have been starting to take real action, best exemplified by the implementation of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe.
As one means of ensuring our data remains private, many of us here at OMERS Ventures are users of DuckDuckGo. DuckDuckGo is a provider of search engine technologies that are specifically designed to protect a user’s online activity from external parties. The engine itself does not track a user’s search history and thus does not (and cannot) exploit a user’s historical online behavior for direct advertising or third-party monetization. With one of the fastest growing user bases in the segment, DuckDuckGo’s search engine offers users the opportunity to benefit from high quality search results, with total peace of mind that they can maintain their confidentiality and anonymity. More recently DuckDuckGo expanded its privacy services, adding a mobile browser and desktop browser extension to their product mix; these products include built-in tracker blocking and smarter encryption.
In this backdrop, we reached out to DuckDuckGo’s founder, Gabriel Weinberg, to see whether there was an investment opportunity for OMERS Ventures. His response: DuckDuckGo is profitable and hence does not new investors. As a user, this is reassuring because it means they will never need to retain user data. But it also meant that there was no immediate investment opportunity. Fortunately though, Gabriel was willing to keep in touch, and over time shared more about the company’s growth objectives, particularly internationally. Today we are announcing an investment and partnership between OMERS Ventures and DuckDuckGo that will help the company continue to grow internationally, including here in Canada, and expand its privacy and security offerings.
We have very much enjoyed getting to know Gabriel and his management team over the last year. Unsurprisingly, they are outspoken and passionate about the importance of internet privacy, security, and surveillance. We believe this team will continue to explore the immense possibilities presented by being a leader in internet privacy, and we look forward to working with Gabriel and the whole team to help them in their efforts to build a more secure, anonymous internet.