Google, Bing and Yahoo could face a new rival in the form of an ethical search engine from UK startup Storm which does not collect user data and intends to turn over half its revenues to charities.
The search engine plans to raise money by taking a tiny portion of any sales made on retailers websites such as Waitrose, Currys, Boots and Sports Direct, which are reached via its search engine.
Storm hopes to have 10 million users by 2017 to generate £200m a year for charities.
Kevin Taylor, chief executive at Storm, told V3 the company created the search engine in response to people's disenchantment with the world's dominant search engines and the amount of data they collect on people.
"I think there are large numbers of people who are a little bit tired of being dictated to, and that dictation is coming from Silicon Valley," he said.
"People are fearful of how invasive these companies have become. There's an awful lot of very clever manipulation of people's personal and private information.
"There's a heavy emphasis on the commercial side of how these [search] platforms work that's not necessarily oriented towards the user's interest. We're trying to come to the market with an alternative aimed at serving a user's needs primarily."
Taylor explained that Storm is aiming to provide more relevant and useful search results than the current crop of search services.
"We built quite a clever and holistic algorithm behind the scenes which is self-learning," he said. "So for individuals or a collection of users, over time we will increase the usefulness of [search results]."
Storm's first charity partner is WellChild and Taylor he thinks it is time for tech companies to start trying to do more good in the world.
"Is it right and proper that a very small number of very large companies make so much money out of these technologies? We don't feel it is," he said.
"We think there is a more ethical way of working, and we're trying to build a platform to do some good in the world."
The charity partnership comes into play when users opt to buy a product using Storm's search engine from participating retailers with a ‘give' icon next to their search listings, as shown above.
Storm gains commission from the retailer on each purchase, which it plans to share with the consumer's charity of choice as more sign-up over time.
Storm pointed out that a quarter of spending in the UK is done online yet only 15 percent of charitable donations are made in this way. It hopes to generate £25 annually per user to surpass to reach its £200m donation target by 2017.
The firm is aiming high by targeting a market dominated by a few major search providers, but the pressure Google has come under from the European Commission for allegedly abusing its search dominance could create an opening for alternative search engines.
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