Barry Diller of IAC has decided enough is enough: Ask.com will not compete against Google in search and Web indexing any longer. The strategy shift back to Q&A content means 130 engineers will lose their jobs, and one of the other search companies will handle Ask.com's needs. Who? Ask.com isn't saying.
portal Ask.com is eliminating 130 engineering workers from its payroll and
consolidating its workforce in one location in Oakland, Calif., over the next few
months, the company announced Nov. 9. The company's strategy now is to have
a focus on question-and-answer content--something it had been doing in the
past, but it now means it will no longer compete with Google and others in
algorithmic search and indexing of the entire Internet.
The two offices being closed include Edison, N.J., and Hangzhou, China.
"We know that receiving answers to questions is
why Ask.com users come to the site, and we are now serving them in everything
we do," wrote Doug Leeds, president of Ask.com-US in a blog
post explaining the restructuring.
"Unfortunately, this absolute focus means that we need to stop investing
in things outside of providing users with the best answers, including making
the huge capital investment required to support algorithmic Web search
development. This investment in independent Web search is not required by our
strategy, nor is it required in the marketplace."
Ask.com, formerly known as Ask Jeeves, had begun
as a question-and-answer Website in 1996 but soon switched gears in an attempt
to compete with Google and Yahoo. The Ask.com brand--which includes
Dictionary.com and Bloglines--is owned by Barry Diller's content- and
commerce-filled company of Internet brands at InterActive. Diller
purchased Ask Jeeves in 2005 for $1.9 billion and expected to grow market share
in the search business.
Today, Ask.com is ranked sixth in the search
market, according to Nielsen ratings and with this most recent move, has signed
an agreement to use search from a competitor, but is keeping that information
confidential, according to a report from Bloomberg.
"Make no mistake that execution of our Q&A
strategy still requires a great deal of technology investment and technical
innovation, much of which is search-related, involving crawling and indexing
the Web's breadth of questions and answers, and using search-based algorithms
to route the right question to the best potential answer," wrote Leeds. "Beyond
this, our proprietary Answer Products will continue to be a key point of
differentiation for us in the Q&A space. We will continue to make the
technology investments necessary across all of these fronts to develop the very
best Q&A experience on the Web."