IAC Boss Barry Diller Disses Ask, Says It Has “No Value”

Like a father disowning his own child IAC's Barry Diller seems to have all but written off the search engine he paid almost two billion dollars for a few short years ago (update: see Barry Diller statement below). According to TechCrunch, Diller told a conference audience (partial paraphrase) that today Ask had "no value." I don’t think Ask.com is going to gain search share; everyone copied us . . . Ask has no value inside of IAC, so why would it add value as a standalone site? That can't be correct because Ask contributes substantial revenue to the company's Media & Advertising divis [...]

Ask Comes Full Circle With “Q&A” Offering

As Matt posted earlier this evening Ask is in beta on a new approach to search, or perhaps more accurately: a return to an earlier approach but with greater experience and sophistication. The IAC-owned company is returning, conceptually, to its origins as a question & answer engine, when human editors were involved. This has been in the works since last year when Ask was calling it "social search." The company is making a serious bet that "Q&A" can be a differentiator for Ask and provide new appeal for the engine, which has seen flat-to-modestly-declining traffic over the past two y [...]

Ask CEO Safka to Depart

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, [...]

All Things D: The Search Edition

There's a ton of search-related news and intrigue coming out of the Dow Jones "All Things D" conference in Southern California. Let's start with the ridiculous remark from IAC's chief Barry Diller that "Google is irrelevant to us." That's only true if Diller doesn't care about search revenue. Google is essentially the source of that revenue for IAC. He also reportedly said, "I believe our product is in most respects better than Google," and that he thinks Google's dominance cannot last indefinitely in search: "At some point Google will not live ever after with 60 or 90 percent of market." A [...]

Obit: A West Coast Digerati Deadpools Ask.com

Goodbye, Ask.com. You caught my eye back in 1997 as an unusual meta search engine that asked questions to get answers. By 1998, I counted you alongside Google and Direct Hit as shining examples of what to watch in search. You'd dumped depending on others for search results and started providing answers using your own human editors. I hung with you over the years, cheered when you acquired the impressive Teoma crawler in 2001. I was thrilled when you alone among the major search engines dumped the traditional search metaphor for the Ask3D view last year. Now you're just for women, apparently. [...]

Six Minutes With Former Ask CEO Jim Lanzone

AllThingD's Kara Swisher does a wide ranging video interview with former Ask CEO Jim Lanzone. Among other things, Swisher and Lanzone discuss "the future of search" (at only the very highest level, however). Lanzone discusses Ask3D and the general trend toward introducing more structured and multimedia content into search results, and the movement away from the proverbial "10 blue links." Regarding the Microsoft-Yahoo merger, Lanzone says it will benefit smaller search players in the market. He asserts that Microsoft's cash might be able to fund greater innovation at Yahoo rather than shut [...]

IAC Troubles, Ask.com, And Post-Yahoo Search Share

The New York Times and Wall Street Journal both report on the legal battle for control of IAC's board and thus the company itself. It's not pretty, and IAC claims that it's impeding the company's ability to effectively operate. The legal fight arguably prevents IAC from making any sort of overture (so to speak) toward Yahoo, although it's a much smaller company ($7.4 billion vs. $38 billion). Another issue to consider is the potential impact on Ask.com of a post-Micro-Hoo search landscape. Ask and AOL jockey back and forth for the number four and five positions in the search rankings. A com [...]

PC World Picks Ask3D As One Of “The 25 Most Innovative Products Of The Year”

At number 23, Ask3D was named one of PC World's "25 Most Innovative Products of the Year." The site opined that Ask "melds comprehensive search results more coherently than competing universal searches do." Ask saw the largest gains in consumer satisfaction in the annual University of Michigan American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) vs. its search competitors. And there are some indications that Ask has also seen a bump in traffic from its 3D redesign, though reports from various metrics firms conflict on this point. Other PC World innovative products included Google Gears, the iPhone, and [...]

Ask.com Adds Current Time Feature For Local Searches

Ask.com is now displaying a clock showing the local time in relation to local searches. For example, search for san jose, ca, and you'll see the local time there appearing in the right-hand column, like this: Give it a try for your favorite city. [...]

Ask Jumps, Google Slips and Yahoo Leads American Customer Satisfaction Index for Search

For the first time, Yahoo has beaten Google in the annual University of Michigan American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). The survey measures U.S. consumer satisfaction across a broad range of business and product categories including "e-business," which covers search. The survey asks a statistically representative sample of consumers to rate their experiences with portals and search engines according to a number of criteria, which produces an overall satisfaction score on a 100 point scale. The search/portal category has been rated since 2000. Until this year, Google has always lead the A [...]

Searching For Earthquakes

This morning at 5 am US Pacific time there was a magnitude 4.2 earthquake in the Oakland, California hills where I live. Danny found the earthquake by doing a search on Ask simply for "earthquakes." The example highlights the value of Ask 3D, the inclusion of more "vertical" structure in search results, and how the new Ask really shines in certain situations vs. the other engines. Compare results: Ask Google Yahoo Microsoft Live Search AOL Impressively, the correct result on Ask appears without using a geographic modifier, but there's also a box to refine by geography within the body of [...]

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