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

Just the hot list include
Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 24,083.83 59.70 0.25%
Nasdaq 7,003.74 -3.61 -0.05%
S&P 500 2,639.40 4.84 0.18%
Treasuries 3.02 0.00 0.00%
Data as of 3:54am ET
Company Price Change % Change
General Electric Co 14.05 -0.63 -4.29%
Advanced Micro Devic... 9.71 -0.38 -3.77%
Bank of America Corp... 30.14 -0.05 -0.17%
Micron Technology In... 47.60 0.49 1.04%
Facebook Inc 159.69 0.00 0.00%
Data as of Apr 25
Sponsors

Sections

When Snapchat changed its app a few months ago, users ? including Kylie Jenner ? revolted. Snap is making changes again, and they have Wall Street nervous. More

US regulators are close to slapping Wells Fargo with a $1 billion fine for forcing customers into car insurance and charging mortgage borrowers unfair fees. More

Nissan's redesigned electric car isn't as exciting as some competitors but it's practical and affordable. More