PAOLI, Pa. — Not far from Valley Forge, around the corner from Bravo Pizza, up the road from Paoli Auto Body, there is an odd-looking office building that resembles a stone castle. An eye doctor is on the first floor. On the second floor is a search engine.
The proprietor of the search engine is Gabriel Weinberg, who is 33. A few years ago, when Weinberg told his wife about his new business idea — pitting him against more established outfits such as Google and Bing — he admits that she briefly thought he was nuts.
“She was like, ‘What are you doing?’ ” Weinberg said. “She thought the idea was crazy.”
Her theory was hard to dispute. A start-up taking on Google in search is much like a raft taking on a cruise ship as a vacation option. But Weinberg is not delusional. With money lining his pockets from selling a start-up for $10 million, Weinberg bet there was a place in the market for a product capitalizing on users’ emerging annoyances with Google — its search results gamed by marketers; its pages cluttered with ads; every query tracked, logged and personalized to the point of creepiness.