You should pay for your search engine to ensure that the incentives of the information provider are aligned with what's best for you, not what’s best for advertisers.
Every "free" search engine out there comes with a hidden cost. Your private details pass through your searches, and search results influenced by advertising can influence your thoughts and actions. Businesses that monetize your data owe you more than just a "free" account! Our stand against ad-supported business models has created a 100% ad-free search experience focused entirely on our users.
If you want a search experience tailored to you and your needs, one that could also make the world a slightly better place, then you need to break free from the ruts that advertisers and corporations have guided us into. Investing in Kagi is investing in a more humane web and your online future. It also invests in your children's future so they won't be bombarded with ads from an early age.
We will let no other than the founders of Google explain this. The year is 1998, and this is how they describe why it is imperative for search engines to be ad-free:
"Currently, the predominant business model for commercial search engines is advertising. The goals of the advertising business model do not always correspond to providing quality search to users. For example, in our prototype search engine one of the top results for cellular phone is "The Effect of Cellular Phone Use Upon Driver Attention", a study which explains in great detail the distractions and risk associated with conversing on a cell phone while driving. This search result came up first because of its high importance as judged by the PageRank algorithm, an approximation of citation importance on the web [Page, 98].*
It is clear that a search engine which was taking money for showing cellular phone ads would have difficulty justifying the page that our system returned to its paying advertisers. For this type of reason and historical experience with other media [Bagdikian 83], we expect that advertising funded search engines will be inherently biased towards the advertisers and away from the needs of the consumers."
— The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine, Sergey Brin and Lawrence Page, 1998
They were right in recognizing early on that ad-supported search engines will be biased towards the advertisers. They probably could not foresee how much damage to the web adopting the model they originally criticized would ultimately cause.
All search engines have search costs, development costs, and administrative costs. Most search engines cover this by advertising, tracking, and selling your data. We attempt to cover it with a simple subscription of USD $10 a month.
Our proposed price is dictated by the fact that search itself has a non-zero cost. In fact, it costs us about $1 to process 80 searches (wherever in the world you search from). So a user searching 8 times a day would perform about 240 searches a month, costing us $3 in search cost. But an average Kagi user is actually searching about 30 times a day. At USD $10/month, the price does not even cover our cost for average use.
We are betting that in the future, we can improve the product to reduce the average number of searches needed to find something. We are also betting we can reduce search cost with optimizations. This would not only cover search cost but make room to pay for other costs as well.
Our goal is to find the minimum price at which we can sustain the business. USD $10 per month is a price point that we lowered as much as we could, hoping it will allow us to have a chance of hitting sustainability at some point. If it turns out that we have more room, we will decrease it. But it can also be that we may need to increase it.
The cost of running free accounts is substantial. It has to be covered by paying customers, which makes the above math even harder. Beyond the Premium plan, your Tips are a way to help offset some of that cost.
All of the above has to be set up in a way that, after subtracting search cost, we have funds to pay for development costs (salaries) and administrative costs.