NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Ask.com, long relegated to also-ran status in the search-engine war, is cutting 130 engineering jobs and outsourcing its search technology.
The news, first reported by Bloomberg and later confirmed by the company, is a concession that the 14-year-old search engine can't catch up to leaders like Google and Microsoft's Bing. Like Yahoo, which outsourced its search technology to Microsoft, Ask.com will stop working on its search algorithm and instead hire a third-party company to provide that technology.
A spokeswoman for Ask.com, which digital conglomerate IAC (IAC) bought in 2005, said the company was laying off engineers based in Edison, N.J., and in China. She declined to comment on which companies it is approaching about a search partnership.
Ask.com plans to focus on developing its online question-and-answer service, in which actual humans field customers' queries. An "ask the community" program launched in July.
"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," company president Doug Leeds said in a blog post on Tuesday.
According to data tracker ComScore, Ask.com had just 3.7% of the search market in September, while Google (GOOG, Fortune 500) commanded almost 65% share. Still, Ask is still the sixth-largest Web property in the world, according to Compete.com.
In July, Leeds told CNNMoney that 30% of the site's current traffic comes in the form of questions entered into Ask.com's search box. He thinks people first go to Google in an effort to find answers, but if that doesn't work they head to Ask.com.
It's a big bet -- many sites, including Google, have tried and failed to create a community-powered "answers" platform.
While the cathedral's money declined, America's biggest bank got rich, the lawsuit claims. More
Hershey has forced an importer to stop selling proper British chocolates in the United States, angering fans of Cadbury and Toffee Crisps. More
Target-date funds have become a wildly popular option among those seeking a hands-off approach to retirement investing. But not all of these funds are created equally. More