The search engine DuckDuckGo has seen a nearly 250% increase in daily searches since last May:

chart, histogram

Source: DuckDuckGo

It took 1145 days to get to 1 million daily searches, another 483 to get to 2 million, and a mere 8 days to pass 3 million. If you haven’t heard of DuckDuckGo before, the search engine has been creating a lot of buzz for its no-frills approach– there is no email service, no auto-complete, and no suggested searches. 

Another thing DuckDuckGo doesn’t do is track private data. Founder Gabriel Weinberg claims the site “does not collect or share personal information. That is our privacy policy in a nutshell.” Which means no stored IP addresses or logged user information. You can pretty much search anonymously.

And arguably, two privacy scares have driven a lot of this DuckDuckGrowth. See the letters in the graph above? Those annotations represent a few important events in DuckDuckGo’s recent history:


Source: DuckDuckGo

The first few annotations (mostly marketing and new investors) correspond with gradual growth for DuckDuckGo. But the first big spike in traffic began in January 2012, around when Google changed the terms of its privacy policy (annotation G). And its most rapid growth started in June 2013, on the heels of Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks (annotation I).

It doesn’t hurt that DuckDuckGo tends to leave users very satisfied. Harry McCracken of Time had this to say:

“When I think about DDG, I don’t just compare it to other search engines. It reminds me of In-N-Out Burger– which is quite a compliment in my book. […] Just as In-N-Out doesn’t have lattes or Asian salads or sundaes or scrambled eggs, DDG doesn’t try to do news or blogs or books or images. There’s no auto-completion or instant results. […] I haven’t abandoned Google for it myself. But every time I try it, I go away happy.”

Still, DuckDuckGo can’t quite compete with Google’s almost 6 billion daily searches. But there just might be enough room for another search engine who’s competitive advantage is that it respects your privacy.

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