Google has been the dominant search engine since the early 2000s, but Jeff Bezos is betting that AI will change the way people find information on the internet. Bezos invested millions in Perplexity AI last week, a startup that hopes to revolutionize search with AI-generated answers and make Google a thing of the past.
“Google is going to be viewed as something that’s legacy and old,” said Perplexity’s founder Aravind Srinivas to Reuters last week. “If you can directly answer somebody’s question, nobody needs those 10 blue links.”
Perplexity AI is like ChatGPT had a baby with Google Search, and Jeff Bezos is paying for its college fund. Srinivas’ company approaches search differently from Google. Instead of a list of blue links, Perplexity answers your question in a straightforward paragraph answer, generated by AI, and includes hyperlinks to the websites it got the information from. Perplexity runs on leading large language models from OpenAI and Anthropic, but the company claims it’s better at delivering up-to-date, accurate information than ChatGPT or Claude.
Srinivas’ company has received more financial backing than any search startup in recent years, according to the Wall Street Journal. Search is a tough field that Google has had a chokehold on for the last two decades. However, several notable tech innovators invested in Perplexity, including Jeff Bezos and Nvidia in a $76 million funding round last week. Meta’s Chief Scientist Yann LeCun and OpenAI’s Andrej Karpathy invested in Perplexity earlier on.
Even Google itself believes AI-generated answers will be the future of search. The company launched Search Generative Experience (SGE) last summer, which will write out a quick answer summarizing top results in Google Search. However, Google tucked it away in “Search Labs,” a standalone app. Once Google puts this feature in Google Search, its crown jewel, then we’ll know it’s fully committed to AI as the future of search.
Perplexity overtaking Google is a long shot, but the vote of confidence from Amazon’s founder is a a plus. Roughly 10 million people use Perplexity AI to browse the internet every month, and it’s one of the first AI platforms to reach such a large audience. It’s currently free to use, with a paid subscription tier for $20 a month. Srinivas says our culture stands “at the inflection point of a massive behavioral shift in how people access information online.” Perplexity’s service produces great results, but it has a tough road ahead to unseat Google.