Tuesday , August 16 2022

Marc Benioff leads $20 million funding round for You.com

Benioff registered You.com in the 90s.

Logo for You.com search engine has a purple Y, pink/orange O and blue/green U with the word beta next to it

You.com has more cash.

If you’re going to take on Google, you need to stand out from the crowd. A great domain name is an ideal way of gaining some prestige.

It’s exactly what a young search engine upstart has done. In 2020, Bryan McCann and Richard Socher, both former Salesforce employees, started work on You.com, described as a “radically different way to search.”

You.com is a far cry from the familiarity of Google, the tech giant that has an 86.64% search engine market share. The company does, however, aim to present an alternative web search experience.

With Google rivals such as DuckDuckGo now boasting record high usage, perhaps it is time for a reimagined search engine.

You.com, which has now launched its public beta, uses artificial intelligence to present search results in a novel way that is simple to personalize. The company hopes it will be able to shrink Google’s market share.

There is a notable link to Salesforce, the enterprise software company, throughout You.com’s story. Aside from the founders being former Salesforce employees, the You.com domain was also connected to Salesforce.

Whois history shows that Salesforce founder Marc Benioff previously owned the domain. He has a long association with the domain, too. According to an article on SFGate, Benioff acquired You.com in the 90s while on a sabbatical from Oracle before founding Salesforce.

Benioff also briefly used You.com as the name for a holding company after acquiring Time magazine for $190 million. In late 2018, Time’s website contained copyright attributed to “You.com USA, LLC.” This then switched to Time USA, LLC.

Benioff’s association with the You.com domain didn’t stop when the search engine began development using the domain. You.com has just raised $20 million in funding led by Benioff.

According to a Reuters report, Benioff’s involvement with the startup includes him transferring ownership of the You.com domain name. It’s unclear whether Benioff transferred the domain name when the company launched or whether he retained possession and has only just moved the domain.

Regardless, it’s a coup for Bryan McCann and Richard Socher to be able to build such an ambitious service on one of the best domain names around. While it will take a lot to unseat Google as the number one search engine, developing on You.com at least gives its service a level of prestige and recognition that would be hard to achieve so early in its life without a premium domain.

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