Our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy have changed.

By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to the new Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

Ask.com ditches its search business

ask.top.jpgAsk.com's question-and-answer page is the site's main focus now. By Julianne Pepitone, staff reporter


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.

In his blog post Tuesday, Leeds acknowledged Ask's past misses: "Ask has taken a lot of flak through the years, fairly and unfairly, for not having a focused, cohesive strategy." To top of page

Index Last Change % Change
Dow 22,956.96 85.24 0.37%
Nasdaq 6,624.01 18.20 0.28%
S&P 500 2,557.64 4.47 0.18%
Treasuries 2.31 0.03 1.18%
Data as of 4:21am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 26.24 0.41 1.59%
General Electric Co 23.36 0.38 1.65%
PG&E Corp 53.43 -4.29 -7.43%
Advanced Micro Devic... 14.26 0.04 0.28%
Micron Technology In... 41.49 1.09 2.70%
Data as of Oct 16
Sponsors

Sections

More than 5% of DACA recipients have started their own businesses since enrolling the program, according to a recent survey. More

Crashing out of the EU without a trade deal will cost British households an extra £260 ($345) a year, according to a new report. More

Netflix plans to continue ramping up its spending as the arms race for original content heats up. More

More than 30 companies have been sued by the government over the past month for scamming student loan borrowers. More