U. S. media mogul and entrepreneur, Barry Diller is acquiring AskJeeves search engine for $1.85 billion according to the BBC News Online and the LA Times. Diller heads up IAC/InterActive, which is 10 times the size of AskJeeves and owns other popular properties such as Expedia.com, CitySearch.com, Hotels.com, TicketMaster.com and Match.com. So, if you’re looking to take your date on an exciting weekend getaway to a far off city, then a newly integrated AskJeeves may be your place for one-stop shopping to make this happen.
The integration of AskJeeves and the other online properties may just give the Internet’s 4th (or 5th depending upon who you talk to) largest search engine a boost in the search engine wars in relation to Google, Yahoo! and MSN. In addition, having the Ask search engine on the other properties’ website will also undoubtedly boost their marketing efforts and effectiveness.
According to Diller, “AskJeeves was founded almost ten years ago based on the idea that simple text search results alone are not sufficient or satisfying – but, rather, that consumers want answers to questions – and questions posed in natural language and answered with spot-on accuracy were especially desired and appealing … we believe that in the future it has the potential to become one of the great brands on the Internet and beyond, and by beyond we mean in wireless, in the search for anything on any device.”
AskJeeves and its quirky butler logo was named for a P. G. Wodehouse character. According to the Jeeves website, “P.G. Wodehouse (1881-1975) was the creator of, among others, the original and immortal Jeeves (the archetypal ‘gentleman’s gentleman’) and his master Bertie Wooster. Affectionately known as Plum, Wodehouse is widely regarded as one of the greatest humorists of the 20th century, and is read and loved by fans worldwide. His prolific output included nearly 100 novels and collections of short stories, as well as plays, musicals and song lyrics.”
AskJeeves has had many ups and downs over the years. According to the L. A. Times, “Ask Jeeves, named after the butler from P.G. Wodehouse’s stories, has taken employees and investors on a roller coaster ride since its founding a decade ago during the start of the dot.com boom. It’s stock once soared above $100 a share, but came crashing down below $1 during the dot.com bust.”
Steve Berkowitz will continue to head up the AskJeeves property in his role as CEO. He has stated that joining IAC/InterActive will give his company the financial backing to compete with the Big 3 search engines. Upon the announcement of the acquisition, AskJeeves shares jumped 15-percent. Its too bad that I just got a few stains on my new AskJeeves “I Love Bloglines” t-shirt as this could have been worth something, someday.