We spoke with Jeremy Tillman, President of Ghostery, about how the cooperation with Cliqz has changed and what impact the Corona crisis has had on privacy on the Internet.
The Munich-based start-up Cliqz, a German provider of browser, privacy, and search technologies, will focus on two business areas from May 1st, 2020 onwards, closing the browser and search technologies areas. The restructuring will affect 45 employees, for whom individual solutions are currently being sought.
Cliqz GmbH was founded in 2008 by Jean-Paul Schmetz with the vision of an open internet where people have control over their data and are not spied on and manipulated for economic interests. Cliqz has set out to merge browser and search to redesign the user interface of the Internet. Since then, experts from around 30 countries have developed innovative software in Munich intending to get users to their destination as directly as possible while protecting their privacy. Since May 2013, the company has been a majority holding of Hubert Burda Media.
"With our innovations, we have proven that it is technically possible to counter the dominant tech platforms from the USA with privacy-friendly products made in Germany. We have developed and operated a completely independent search engine that clearly sets us apart from many others whose products are not based on proprietary technologies. Burda has supported us with a lot of courage and optimism in achieving our vision. However, in the long run, we have no chance against an overpowering opponent such as Google, which dominates the market in every aspect. We are deeply sorry to say goodbye to colleagues who have shown great commitment and passion in achieving our vision."
Jean-Paul Schmetz, Cliqz founder
"We have invested in Cliqz for years because we are convinced that Europe needs its own digital infrastructure to prevent being overrun by foreign tech giants. However, without the essential political structures on a European level, we will not be able to counter the superiority of the tech giants from the USA and China. Also, it is very unlikely that a wider innovation program for Europe will be put in place within the next few years due to the Corona pandemic. It is therefore with much regret to say that we cannot pursue our vision with Cliqz any longer even though I strongly believe that the idea of establishing a counterweight to the USA and China in the European search sector is still the right one".
Paul-Bernhard Kallen, Burda CEO
The Cliqz subsidiary Ghostery, headed by Jeremy Tillman, will continue to bundle Cliqz's anti-tracking expertise. Ghostery tracks down thousands of tracking scripts making them harmless. Cliqz acquired the world's leading anti-tracking provider with around 8 million users in February 2017 and has been driving various product innovations, including the combination of existing anti-tracking technology with new methods based on artificial intelligence, since then.
In addition, a team of experts is being formed from within Cliqz to deal with technical issues such as artificial intelligence, search, and the influence of technology on media.
The areas of browser and search technologies will be shut down. For the Cliqz MyOffrz GmbH (MyOffrz), led by Lukas Jakobs and Richard Weber, an integration within Burda is currently being discussed. MyOffrz offers a completely new form of browser-based performance marketing. Brands and agencies can use MyOffrz to present consumers with highly relevant offers on the Internet that correspond very closely to their individual interests or even real-time purchase intentions. This targeting is not only fully GDPR-compliant and future-proof in terms of ePrivacy and a cookie-free world, it also prevents personal data from being created in the first place.