As private search engine Blippex thrives, Archify suddenly shuts down personal search service

When we covered the launch of the privacy-centric Blippex search engine a couple of weeks back, we noted that it was a side project rather than a pivot for the Archify team. Well, surprise! It turns out that Archify, a personal search engine whose technology is largely being reused in Blippex, is being shuttered after all.

What’s more, the team is shutting it down with minimal notice – the announcement came on Monday via a blog post, and all user data will be deleted on Wednesday. For a flavor of some users’ reaction, see the tweet that alerted me to the shutdown in the first place:

“The success of Blippex was so big in the last 10 days that we decided to make this move – it wasn’t planned like this,” Archify CEO Max Kossatz told me on Tuesday. “When we talked two weeks ago the plan was to have two systems, but right now we look at the stats – yesterday we had 50,000 searches.”

Archify and Blippex co-founders Max Kossatz and Gerald BΓ€ck
Archify and Blippex co-founders Max Kossatz and Gerald BΓ€ck

Archify, by way of comparison, only had 20,000 active users. According to Kossatz, it was “slowly growing” but nowhere near as fast as Blippex is growing. Here’s the deciding factor: the company is currently trying to raise its next round, and that was a hard sell for Archify itself.

Fair enough, perhaps. But does the Archify team really need to give its users a measly two days’ notice? Kossatz said this was a “cost issue”, but then there’s the added problem of Archify not giving its users a clear way to export their data – which, after all, is a highly detailed and searchable history of their web surfing.

According to Kossatz, only five users or so actually requested their data via email or Twitter. That approach puts the onus on the users to figure out how to get their data – in my view, a very bad way to go about it. It is only in the last few minutes that Archify posted a new blog post explaining the process more explicitly.

On the upside, Blippex is all about privacy so user data isn’t really an issue – and indeed the team plans to make its first aggregated database dump this afternoon, as a way of demonstrating Blippex’s transparent approach to search. But still, the way in which Archify is being wound down leaves a sour taste.

UPDATE: That database dump is out now, if anyone wants to poke around.