|Headquarters||Oakland, California, US|
|Alexa rank||36 (December 2013[update])|
|Type of site||Answer engine|
Ask.com (originally known as Ask Jeeves) is a question answering-focused web search engine founded in 1996 by Garrett Gruener and David Warthen in Berkeley, California. The original software was implemented by Gary Chevsky from his own design. Warthen, Chevsky, Justin Grant, and others built the early AskJeeves.com website around that core engine. In late 2010, facing insurmountable competition from Google, the company outsourced its web search technology and returned to its roots as a question and answer site. Douglas Leeds was elevated from president to CEO in 2010.
Ask.com is noted and most infamous for a malware toolbar that can be surreptitiously bundled in with legitimate program installations, and which generally cannot be removed from most common browsers once installed.
Three venture capital firms, Highland Capital Partners, Institutional Venture Partners, and The RODA Group were early investors. Ask.com is currently owned by InterActiveCorp under the NASDAQ symbol IACI.
Ask.com was originally known as Ask Jeeves, "Jeeves" being the name of a "gentleman's personal gentleman", or valet, fetching answers to any question asked. The character was based on Bertie Wooster's valet Jeeves, in the fictional works of P. G. Wodehouse.
The original idea behind Ask Jeeves was to allow users to get answers to questions posed in everyday, natural language, as well as by traditional keyword searching. The current Ask.com still supports this, with added support for math, dictionary, and conversion questions.
In 2005 the company announced plans to phase out Jeeves and on February 27, 2006, the character disappeared from Ask.com. He was stated to be "going into retirement." However, the UK/Ireland edition of the website prominently brought the character back in 2009.
InterActiveCorp owns a variety of sites including country-specific sites for UK, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, and Spain along with Ask Kids, Teoma (now ExpertRank) and several others. On June 5, 2007, Ask.com relaunched with a 3D look.
On May 16, 2006, Ask implemented a "Binoculars Site Preview" into its search results. On search results pages, the "Binoculars" let searchers capture a sneak peek of the page they could visit with a mouse-over activating screenshot pop-up.
In December 2007, Ask released the AskEraser feature, allowing users to opt-out from tracking of search queries and IP and cookie values. They also vowed to erase this data after 18 months if the AskEraser option is not set. HTTP cookies must be enabled for AskEraser to function.
Ask.com now reaches 100 million global users per month through its website with more than 2 million downloads of its flagship mobile app. The company has also released additional apps spun out of its Q&A experience, including Ask Around in 2011 and PollRoll in 2012.
Ask Jeeves, Inc. stock traded on the NASDAQ stock exchange from July 1999 to July 2005, under the ticker symbol ASKJ. In July 2005, the ASKJ ticker was retired upon the acquisition by InterActiveCorp, valuing ASKJ at US$1.85 billion.
In 2012 Ask.com made two acquisitions as part of a larger strategy to offer more content on the Ask.com website. On July 2, 2012, Ask.com purchased content discovery start-up, nRelate, for an undisclosed amount. That was followed by the company's acquisition of expert advice and information site About.com, which closed in September 2012.
Ask Sponsored Listings
Formerly the direct sales engine for Ask.com, Ask Sponsored Listings is no longer available, merging with Sendori, an operating business of IAC, in 2011.
Ask Toolbar controversy
The Ask Toolbar is a web-browser add-on that can appear as an extra bar added to the browser's window and/or menu. As it cannot be removed by using built-in OS uninstall functionalities, it is often referred to as malware. It is often installed during the installation of partner software, including Oracle Java. As an operating business of InterActiveCorp, Ask Partner Network has entered into partnerships with some software security vendors, whereby they distribute the toolbar alongside their software. Installer packages for partner companies have an option (opt-out) to install the Ask Toolbar and/or change the user's default browser home page to Ask.com.
Ask.com and its parent company IAC have been heavily criticized due to malware-like features of the toolbar, and also due to the opt-out, rather than opt-in nature of the bundle installation process.
Marketing and promotion
Apostolos Gerasoulis, the co-creator of Ask's Teoma algorithmic search technology, starred in four television advertisements in 2007, extolling the virtues of Ask.com's usefulness for information relevance. There was a Jeeves balloon in the 2001 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
After a hiatus from mass consumer marketing, Ask returned to TV advertising in the fall of 2011 after refocusing its site on questions and answers. Instead of national advertising, Ask focused on local markets with basic creative. In the summer of 2012, Ask launched a national cinema campaign, and along with other out-of-home tactics in certain markets such as New York and Seattle.
As part of a Seattle-based local market effort, Ask.com launched its “You Asked We Answered” campaign in 2012, in which the company “answered” residents’ top complaints about living in their city, including easing morning commutes and stadium traffic, as well as keeping the local Parks & Rec department wading pools open.
On January 14, 2009, Ask.com became the official sponsor of NASCAR driver Bobby Labonte's No. 96 car. Ask would become the official search engine of NASCAR. Ask.com will be the primary sponsor for the No. 96 for 18 of the first 21 races and has rights to increase this to a total of 29 races this season. The Ask.com car debuted in the 2009 Bud Shootout where it failed to finish the race but subsequently has come back strong placing as high as 5th in the March 1, 2009 Shelby 427 race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Ask.com's foray into NASCAR is the first instance of its venture into what it calls Super Verticals.
Search engine shut-down
In 2010 Ask.com abandoned the search industry, with the loss of 130 search engineering jobs, because it could not compete against more popular search engines such as Google. Earlier in the year, Ask had launched a Q&A community for generating answers from real people as opposed to search algorithms then combined this with its question-and–answer repository, utilizing its extensive history of archived query data to search sites that provide answers to questions people have. To avoid a situation in which no answers were available from its own resources, the company outsourced to third-party search providers the comprehensive web search matches that it had gathered itself.
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