Perplexity AI: the AI ​​search engine that wants to shake up Google

Perplexity AI: the AI ​​search engine that wants to shake up Google
Perplexity AI: the AI ​​search engine that wants to shake up Google

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Since its launch in July 2022, the startup Perplexity AI has been making waves in the world of technology. Founded by Aravind Srinivas, a former OpenAI and Google engineer, this young American startup has set itself the mission of “build the world’s best answer engine: one that people trust to discover and expand their knowledge”. With a fundraising of nearly $74 million in early 2024, including renowned investors like Nvidia, Elad Gil and Jeff Bezos, Perplexity AI displays its ambitions: to become the benchmark challenger against the historic giants of online search , starting with Google. Just that.

To achieve this, Perplexity relies on an innovative approach, combining the functionalities of a traditional search engine with the advanced capabilities of a large language model (LLM). Concretely, Perplexity robots scour the web to find the most relevant information, which they then entrust to a variety of AI models such as GPT-4 from OpenAI, Claude-2 from Anthropic or even Llama-2 from Meta, in order to generate concise and quality answers.

An alternative to traditional search engines

This approach contrasts with the model of traditional search engines, such as Google, which mainly rely on the massive indexing of web content and the display of results in the form of links. Perplexity, on the other hand, emphasizes the reliability and relevance of information, sourcing from a select group of reputable sources rather than relying on an exhaustive index. This results in more concise answers and targeted, without the need to browse numerous pages of results.

The response is well written, with wording that summarizes information from different sources into a well-constructed summary containing the main necessary data. A significant time saving for users, who no longer have to navigate through a multitude of links to find the answer to their question. Another major difference: Perplexity operates on a “freemium” model, with a free version and a paid premium offer. Where Google and most traditional search engines derive their revenue from advertising, Perplexity is currently relying solely on subscriptions, although it does not rule out introducing advertising in the future. The paid version, a little less than 20 euros per month, allows you to have longer and more detailed answers, to be able to upload files, to choose from AI models (including the latest versions).

Promising performance, but challenges to overcome

Since its launch, Perplexity has shown encouraging performance, with a monthly growth rate of more than 40% and 15 million monthly active users at the start of 2024. The platform also appears to be gaining visibility, with a 40% increase in referrals to brand sites since January, according to SEO company BrightEdge.

However, Perplexity is not yet free from criticism. His answers can sometimes lack freshness, particularly on current political topics where information evolves quickly. The start-up itself recognizes this limitation, warning users of the need to check official sources for the most recent information. What’s more, tackling Google head-on, the online search juggernaut, is a challenge. Other giants, like Microsoft with Bing, have already failed in the past despite colossal investments.

Perplexity will therefore have to demonstrate innovation and perseverance to hope to shake up established codes. Its economic model based on subscriptions – which prevents advertising from intruding everywhere –, its emphasis on the reliability of information and its integration of cutting-edge AI make it an attractive alternative to traditional search engines. . There is no doubt that Perplexity will continue to be talked about in the months and years to come.

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