According to the Wall Street Journal, Ask.com CEO Jim Safka is leaving the company. He will become the head of Chegg, Inc., which rents textbooks to students online. The decision to leave is apparently Safka’s, for personal reasons. Longtime IAC executive Scott Garell will take over as “President of Ask Networks.”
In its most recent earnings report, IAC’s “media & advertising” business (which reflects search revenues) was off 22 percent compared with the same period a year ago. Ask’s market share, as the WSJ article points out, has remained largely flat during Safka’s time at the helm, with just under a 4 percent share of the search market in the US. However, in an email to Danny, Safka described a number of achievements, including growing traction for Ask’s vertical strategy and success with the return of Jeeves the butler in the UK.
In early January, 2008 Safka replaced then Ask CEO Jim Lanzone, who had presided over the innovative “Ask 3D” relaunch. Lanzone became CEO of Ask in April, 2006 himself replacing Steve Berkowitz who went to Microsoft. (Berkowitz is currently CEO at Move.com.)