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Google it: Ask.com gives up ghost on search market

Dear Jeeves, when did I lose my algorithmic mojo?

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Ask.com has quit the internet search biz and is laying off around 130 engineers.

It will no longer attempt to compete with Google’s might and will instead fix its efforts on finding answers to questions via search requests.

Ask.com, which is owned by IAC/InterActiveCorp, is cutting back its total workforce of about 400 people by nearly one-third by letting go of employees in Edison, New Jersey and Hangzhou, China.

The company’s Q&A site will use web algorithms developed by an unnamed search engine.

"While extremely hard, this decision was made for a number of reasons we believe will ultimately benefit our company and our products, including cost, office location, and — most importantly — focus," said Ask.com president Doug Leeds.

"As our loyal staff knows best, Ask has taken a lot of flak through the years, fairly and unfairly, for not having a focused, cohesive strategy, for ping-ponging across different approaches and marketing tactics.

"The current team ended that. 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."

But the company couldn't continue to throw cash at "algorithmic web search development," he said.

"This investment in independent web search is not required by our strategy, nor is it required in the marketplace. We have access to multiple third-party structured and unstructured data feeds that, when integrated, can provide a web search experience on par with what we are able to produce internally, at much lower costs."

In other words, Ask.com has thrown in the towel on a TKO. Why go another round when Google is simply too huge to defeat? ®

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