UPDATED 20:24 EDT / MAY 17 2023


Report: Snowflake is in advanced talks to acquire AI search startup Neeva

Snowflake Inc., the cloud-based data warehouse provider, is reportedly in advanced talks to acquire a search startup called Neeva Inc. that was founded by former Google LLC advertising executive Sridhar Ramaswamy.

The report comes today from The Information, which cites people with direct knowledge of the discussions. It says Neeva’s technology could help Snowflake create artificial intelligence-powered search capabilities that would help its customers search for information in internal documents and data.

Neeva was founded in 2019 but first came to attention back in June 2021 when it launched a novel subscription-based search engine that aimed to provide a better experience than Google by stripping out the advertisements from its results. More recently, Neeva has been expanding its search capabilities to answer more abstract queries with the use of generative AI, similar to OpenAI LP’s ChatGPT.

ChatGPT is an AI chatbot that’s known for its ability to respond to questions and prompts in a humanlike manner. It can also generate new content based on feedback. Its capabilities can be especially useful for search, where users often have abstract ideas about what they’re looking for, such as “Tell me about what stores where I can buy red bouncy balls nearby.”

Google would likely not be able to provide a suitable response to such a query, and that’s where Neeva’s generative AI comes into its own. It says it has improved on ChatGPT, which was trained on publicly available data on the internet as of 2021 and is therefore out of date. Neeva’s AI is able to search the internet as it is today, so the results it returns can be more relevant and up to date. Rather than produce a list of links to different websites in its results, Neeva attempts to provide summarized answers to people’s queries, with citations embedded, making it act more like a real-time encyclopedia search.

The model regularly self-updates, meaning it can surface the most recent information from the Web. However, if it’s unable to provide a summary to someone’s query, it can also fall back on a traditional list of search results.

Neeva, which was valued at about $250 million at the time of its last funding round in 2021, would be a strong fit for Snowflake. The cloud data warehouse giant is said to be keen to integrate generative AI with its own offerings, as it has the potential to increase productivity for its users by reducing the time they spend searching for information within documents. Snowflake is currently at a disadvantage here, as rivals such as Google Cloud and Microsoft Corp. both provide access to AI software with search capabilities.

Dave Vellante, a longtime industry analyst and host of SiliconANGLE Media’s video studio theCUBE, said Snowflake has ambitions to become the “App Store for data apps.” As such, Neeva’s large language model capabilities and its vector database would enable Snowflake to support data application development in a simplified way.

“Our fundamental research premise is that applications are moving from being process-centric to data-centric where logic is embedded in the data, not the other way around,” Vellante said. “A capability like this enables Snowflake and its partners to very quickly and simply build apps inside of the Snowflake Data Cloud and essentially become the data App Store. And if Snowflake can enable data app developers to build apps more efficiently and quickly then it can tap the scale and innovation in hyperscale clouds to be the best platform on which to build data apps.”

SiliconANGLE co-founder John Furrier said the emergence of AI with new semantic layers, such as what Neeva is building, is unleashing a transformative wave across the technology industry. “By prioritizing data integration and embedding app logic, businesses can create automated systems that make decisions without human intervention,” he said. “This paradigm shift revolutionizes business operations, enabling companies to achieve unprecedented efficiency and effectiveness.”

Snowflake could have a fight on its hands if it wants to acquire Neeva, however. The Information reported that Neeva has also approached Snowflake’s competitor Databricks Inc. about a potential acquisition.

Image: Neeva

A message from John Furrier, co-founder of SiliconANGLE:

Your vote of support is important to us and it helps us keep the content FREE.

One click below supports our mission to provide free, deep, and relevant content.  

Join our community on YouTube

Join the community that includes more than 15,000 #CubeAlumni experts, including Amazon.com CEO Andy Jassy, Dell Technologies founder and CEO Michael Dell, Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger, and many more luminaries and experts.

“TheCUBE is an important partner to the industry. You guys really are a part of our events and we really appreciate you coming and I know people appreciate the content you create as well” – Andy Jassy