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Company Background

About Startpage

Startpage (www.startpage.com) combines the powerful search results of Google with the strong privacy features of Ixquick, the world's most private search engine. The result is great search results - with total privacy protection!

No IP addresses are stored, no personal data is gathered or passed on to third parties, and no identifying cookies are placed on your browser. Startpage also offers secure SSL encryption, a proxy option that allows anonymous web surfing, full third-party certification, and numerous other privacy features.

Company History

The Ixquick search engine was developed and launched in 1998 by David Bodnick in New York. In the year 2000, it was acquired by Surfboard Holding B.V, a privately held Dutch corporation whose only activities are operating Ixquick, and now Startpage. Since its inception in 1998, Ixquick has grown steadily, primarily as a result of word-of-mouth referrals. A number of awards have contributed to our growth, including:

  • 1st European Privacy Seal awarded by certifying authority Europrise
  • Awarded best metasearch by Search Engine Watch in 2000, 2002, and 2004

Ixquick, and now Startpage, have steadily increased in popularity since becoming the first search engine dedicated to privacy in 2006. As of January 2010, Ixquick and Startpage had served over 1.2 billion searches.

The Startpage Name

Startpage was released in 2009 in the United States as a new name for the Ixquick search engine. Because the name Ixquick can be somewhat difficult to remember and spell, people asked us for an easier name, and we were happy to oblige. Startpage uses Ixquick's search methodologies and privacy features, and is governed by the same privacy policies. Startpage is only available in the English language at present, but we expect to launch Startpage in additional major languages later in 2010.

Privacy

Startpage has the industry's leading Privacy Policy:

  • No recording of users' IP addresses.
  • No identifying cookies.
  • No collection of personal data.
  • No sharing personal data with third parties.
  • Offering secure, encrypted connections (HTTPS/SSL)
  • And a free proxy service that allows anonymous browsing of websites.

Further details can be found on our Privacy Page or in Startpage's Privacy Policy.

Privacy Background

The internet contains immense amounts of information that gives us unprecedented access to shopping, news, entertainment, and more. Search engines help us navigate all of that data to find what we're looking for quickly and efficiently. This convenience hasn't come without a price, however. A serious potential danger associated with the use of search engines is the loss of privacy.

In 2005, Startpage's parent company, Ixquick, undertook an audit to identify the company's liabilities. One shocking finding was that we had collected a huge amount of privacy-sensitive information on our users. Like other search engines, we had stored things like people's search terms, the times and dates of their visits, what links they had chosen to click on, their IP addresses, and their user ID cookies. The technical reasons for collecting the data were simple, and unfortunately widespread in today's IT environment: "It doesn't cost much, it's very easy to do, and the data may come in handy in the future".

As we looked at that mountain of data, however, it began to look like more of a privacy liability than a business asset. We had never sold the information or used it commercially. Since we are an independent company focused solely on search, we were not interested in combining user data with other services we offer. In sum, we had a database full of user details we neither needed nor wanted. We asked ourselves why we were storing all that privacy-sensitive information, and we realized there was no good reason for it.

That realization took the company in a bold new direction, and from that point forward we made protecting our user's privacy our number one priority. In June 2006, we purged our database and retroactively deleted all IP addresses and other stored search data. We began deleting all new IP addresses within 48 hours. And starting in January 2009, we stopped recording IP addresses at all.

We have now optimized our search processes to guarantee privacy and ensure that we never collect personal data on our users. We also work to ensure that user search data is not collected by other parties. We are the only leading search engine to offer Secure Socket Layer (SSL) or HTTPS encryption to prevent search queries from being eavesdropped on by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) or unscrupulous WiFi providers and hackers. In recognition of this unique feature, Startpage's parent company, Ixquick, received the first European Privacy Award from EU Privacy Commissioner, Mr. Peter Hustinx, in July 2008.

Our business model hinges on excellent search capabilities combined with complete privacy. Going forward, Startpage will continue to offer innovative privacy-enhancing features and services. Our new Proxy allow users to visit third-party websites anonymously through Startpage's servers without being tracked by those websites. And we are also exploring ways to offer a truly safe email service. As the Internet continues to evolve, Startpage will stand by its commitment to privacy.

Great search results

Startpage is enhanced by Google, offering the powerful Google search results many people have grown accustomed to. Google's advanced search capabilities are powerful and allow users to dig deeper into the Web. Adding the privacy of Ixquick is what makes Startpage truly special.

Independent Company

Startpage is owned by a privately held corporation, Surfboard Holdings, BV, so it is completely independent of outside forces that might seek to exploit user data. Startpage and Ixquick are not affiliated with any national or international organization, corporation, commercial enterprise, government, or intelligence agency. Of course, Startpage would be obligated to comply with legal demands for information from proper government authorities, but because we have no personal information on file, there would be no data to deliver. Maybe that's why Startpage and Ixquick have never been subpoenaed for any user data.

Our Team

From our inception, the company has strived to stay small and flexible and to maintain the creative and innovative spirit of our founder, David Bodnick. We have offices in three countries, with staff and volunteers in the Netherlands, the US, and India. Website management, administrative, and financial work is mainly done from the Netherlands; technical architecture from New York; while our group of highly skilled software engineers in New Delhi, India, take care of most of the site's maintenance and development.

Currently, the management team consists of David Bodnick, our company's founder and technologist; Dr. Katherine Albrecht, who handles US media relations and marketing initiatives for Startpage; Robert Beens, Managing Director; and Alex van Eesteren, Vice President of Marketing and Sales. Our growing arrays of servers are located in Amsterdam and Haarlem in the Netherlands and Palo Alto, USA.

Competitors

Surfboard's competitors are search engines offering similar search services to those offered by Startpage. Google, of course, holds the lion's share of the search market, along with Yahoo and Bing. When it comes to privacy however, Startpage has no real competitors to speak of, as we are the only search engine worldwide to offer fully secure, third-party certified private Web search.

Market Share

Startpage along with its parent company Ixquick is a growing and profitable company. Since making privacy our focus in 2006, we have attracted a loyal user following and have now served over 1.2 billion searches as of December 2009. Our current focus is on further extending the privacy services we offer and growing our user base.

Financial

Startpage is a privately held company, so we do not report financial information. We can report that we are fiscally sound and have been profitable for the last five years. To facilitate the user experience, Startpage has opted for a clean and simple user interface with a minimum of advertisements. Some result pages show relevant sponsored results which are clearly indicated at the top of the page and limited to three sponsored results per page. The presentation of these ads has been carefully thought through to safeguard users' privacy, and at no point does Startpage ever share user data with any third party. Startpage's profitability enables us to invest heavily in software development and further privacy enhancements.

Outlook

Search engine privacy is an increasingly important topic and one that will continue to grow. For 2010 and 2011, Startpage expects to continue expanding the privacy services we offer. Our newly launched Proxy service is a huge contribution to the cause, and we are exploring ways to offer safe email as well. We believe Startpage is a tremendous resource, and we are proud to offer an excellent search resource that protects privacy to the Internet Community.


© 2012 Startpage