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Type Private
Founded June 1996; 19 years ago (1996-06)
(as Ask Jeeves)
Headquarters Oakland, California,
Owner IAC
Alexa rank Increase 31(Oct 2015)[1]
Type of site Answer engine
Registration Optional
Available in English
Current status Active (originally known as Ask Jeeves) is a question answering-focused web search engine founded in 1995 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 website around that core engine. In late 2010, facing insurmountable competition from more popular search engines, the company outsourced its web search technology and returned to its roots as a question and answer site.[2] Douglas Leeds was elevated from president to CEO in 2010.[3] has been criticized for its browser toolbar which behaves like malware; it has been surreptitiously bundled in with legitimate program installations, usually Oracle's Java, and cannot be easily removed from most common browsers once installed.[4][5] no longer bundles with Oracle's Java which now features a Yahoo! "experience."[6]

Three venture capital firms, Highland Capital Partners, Institutional Venture Partners, and The RODA Group were early investors.[7] is currently owned by InterActiveCorp (IAC) under the NASDAQ symbol NASDAQIACI.


Jeeves, appears when users go to, As of November 2015 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. In movies the Jeeves character was played by Arthur Treacher, the English actor who lent his name to another American franchise, Arthur Treacher's fish and chips.

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 still supports this, with 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 He was stated to be "going into retirement." However, the UK/Ireland edition of the website prominently brought the character back in 2009.

IAC 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[8]) and several others. On June 5, 2007, relaunched with a 3D look.[9]

On May 16, 2006, Ask implemented a "Binoculars Site Preview" into its search results. On search results pages, the "Binoculars" let searchers have a sneak peek of the page they could visit with a mouse-over activating a pop-up screenshot.

In December 2007, Ask released the AskEraser feature,[10] 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.[11][12]

An search of Wikipedia.

On July 4, 2008, InterActiveCorp announced the acquisition of Lexico Publishing Group, which owns,, and[13][14]

On July 26, 2010, released a closed-beta Q&A service. The service was released to the public on July 29, 2010.[15] launched its mobile Q&A app for the iPhone in late 2010.[16] now reaches 100 million global users per month[17] through its website with more than 2 million downloads of its flagship mobile app.[18] The company has also released additional apps spun out of its Q&A experience, including Ask Around[19] in 2011 and PollRoll[20] in 2012.

Search engine shut-down[edit]

In 2010, 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.[21] To avoid a situation in which no answers were available from its own resources, the company outsourced to an unnamed third-party search provider the comprehensive web search matches that it had gathered itself.[22]

Ask Sponsored Listings[edit]

Formerly the direct sales engine for, Ask Sponsored Listings is no longer available, having merged with Sendori, an operating business of IAC, in 2011.[23]

Corporate details[edit] headquarters in Oakland, California

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 IAC, valuing at US$1.85 billion.

In 2012 made two acquisitions as part of a larger strategy to offer more content on the website. On July 2, 2012, purchased content discovery start-up,[24] nRelate, for an undisclosed amount. That was followed by the company's acquisition of expert advice and information site, which closed in September 2012.[25]

On August 14, 2014, acquired popular social networking website,, where users can ask other users questions, with the option of anonymity.[26] As of August 14, 2014, had 180 million monthly unique users in more than 150 countries around the world,[27] with its largest user base in the United States.[28] Available on the web and as a mobile app, generates an estimated 20,000 questions per minute with approximately 45 percent of its mobile monthly active users logging in daily.[29] To date, the mobile app has been downloaded more than 40 million times.[29]

Criticism of Ask toolbar[edit]

The Ask toolbar is a browser extension that can appear as an extra bar added to the browser's window and/or menu. As it cannot be easily removed by using built-in uninstall features,[30] it is considered a "potentially unwanted program".[31] The Ask toolbar is often unintentionally installed during the installation of partner software, including Oracle Java; this may take advantage of a user's lack of critical evaluation. As an operating business of IAC,[32] Ask Partner Network has entered into partnerships with some software security vendors, whereby they distribute the toolbar alongside their software.[33] 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 and its parent company IAC have been criticized because many consumers installed the software unwittingly and, once installed, the toolbar hijacked the user's home page and pointed it to, which in turn presented biased search results.[citation needed] Another criticism is a ten-minute delay between updating Java and installing the Ask toolbar.[34] The company defends its action by pointing out that instructions to remove the toolbar can be found at the Help Center.[35]

Symantec's Norton Internet Security 2015 includes the Ask search engine as part of an optional "Safe Search" toolbar. If the user declines to install this toolbar, they can be confronted with a pop-up message at least once a day, and sometimes more often, offering to "Get your Norton toolbar back". One of the options displayed is to never display this message again but that option often does not in fact eliminate the pop-ups.[citation needed]

Microsoft does not consider the current version of the Ask toolbar to be unwanted software, but they state that older versions of the toolbar pose "a high threat to your PC" and they provide tools for detecting and removing them.[36]

Marketing and promotion[edit]

Apostolos Gerasoulis, the co-creator of Ask's Teoma algorithmic search technology, starred in four television advertisements in 2007, extolling the virtues of's usefulness for information relevance.[37] A Jeeves balloon appeared in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade through 2000-2004.

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.[38] Instead of national advertising, Ask focused on local markets with basic creative. In the summer of 2012, Ask launched a national cinema campaign,[39] along with other out-of-home tactics in certain markets such as New York and Seattle.[40]

As part of a Seattle-based local market effort, launched its “You Asked We Answered”[41] 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 and Rec department wading pools open.

On January 14, 2009, became the official sponsor of NASCAR driver Bobby Labonte's No. 96 car. Ask would become the official search engine of NASCAR.[42] 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.[43] The car debuted in the 2009 Bud Shootout where it failed to finish the race, but subsequently returned strongly, placing as high as 5th in the March 1, 2009 Shelby 427 race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.[44]'s foray into NASCAR represents the first instance of its venture into what it calls "Super Verticals".[45]


  1. ^ " Site Info". Alexa Internet. Retrieved 2015-03-29. 
  2. ^ Kopytoff, Verne G. (November 9, 2010). " Giving Up Search to Return to Q-and-A Service". The New York Times. 
  3. ^ "IAC Management". IAC. 
  4. ^ "A close look at how Oracle installs deceptive software with Java updates", by Ed Bott, January 22, 2013
  5. ^ "The Shameful Saga of Uninstalling the Terrible Ask Toolbar", by Lowell Heddings, February 19, 2013
  6. ^ Keizer, Gregg. "Microsoft deletes older browser toolbars, but ignores Oracle's new crapware". Computerworld. Computerworld. Retrieved 3 August 2015. 
  7. ^ "Ask Jeeves, Inc. initial public offering prospectus". Archived from the original on June 29, 2011. Retrieved July 12, 2011. 
  8. ^ Search Technology. Retrieved on May 11, 2009.
  9. ^ Major Relaunch For Ask: Ask3D, Techcrunch, 2007-06-04. Retrieved on June 5, 2007
  10. ^ Takes the Lead on Log Retention; Microsoft and Yahoo! Follow,, Retrieved on January 3, 2008
  11. ^ "Does AskEraser Really Erase?". Electronic Privacy Information Center. Archived from the original on March 8, 2008. Retrieved March 10, 2008. 
  12. ^ "Letter to U.S. Federal Trade Commission" (PDF). Center for Democracy and Technology. January 23, 2008. Retrieved March 10, 2008. 
  13. ^ Auchard, Eric (July 3, 2008). " closes acquisition of". Reuters. 
  14. ^ " closes deal". CNet. July 4, 2008. 
  15. ^ " Q&A Service Drops July 29th". Softpedia. July 27, 2010. 
  16. ^ Christian, Zibreg (September 24, 2010). " has an iPhone app that lets you ask and get local answers". 
  17. ^ Sterling, Greg. "Ask CEO Doug Leeds Proclaims Search Wars "Over," Says Yahoo Can Be Great Again". Search Engine Land. Retrieved 16 October 2012. 
  18. ^ Knight, Kristina. "How Tina Fey inspired to change". BizReport. Retrieved 16 October 2012. 
  19. ^ Perez, Marin. "Ask Around app brings location-based conversations to iPhone". Into Mobile. Retrieved 16 October 2012. 
  20. ^ Spirrison, Brad. " hits the polls with Pollroll". Appolicious. Retrieved 16 October 2012. 
  21. ^ Van Grove, Jennifer. " Reinvents Itself with a Focus on Community Q&A". Mashable. Mashable. Retrieved 27 August 2013. 
  22. ^ Kopytoff, Verne (November 9, 2010). " to Return to Old Service". New York Times. New York Times. Retrieved 27 August 2013. 
  23. ^ "Ask Sponsored Listings is now Sedori". Sendori. Retrieved 29 October 2012. 
  24. ^ de Senerpont Domis, Olaf. "Q&A with's CEO and nRelate's Founder". The Deal Pipeline. Retrieved 23 October 2012. 
  25. ^ Stewart, Christopher. "Times Co. Sells for $300 Million". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 23 October 2012. 
  26. ^ Magid, Larry. "IAC's Buys And Hires A Safety Officer To Stem Bullying". Forbes. Forbes. Retrieved 29 August 2014. 
  27. ^ Curtis, Sophie. "Tinder owner buys social network". The Telegraph. The Telegraph. Retrieved 29 August 2014. 
  28. ^ Sullivan, Laurie. " Acquires Q&A Social Network, Prepares To Add Tools To Increase Safety". Media Post. Media Post. Retrieved 29 August 2014. 
  29. ^ a b Perez, Sarah. "IAC Agrees To Work With Regulators On Cyberbullying Protections Following Deal". Techcrunch. Techcrunch. Retrieved 29 August 2014. 
  30. ^ Rashid, Fahmida. "How to remove the Toolbar from your browser". PCmag. Ziff Davis. Retrieved 8 January 2014. 
  31. ^ "PC Magazine: How to Remove the Toolbar From Your Browser". Retrieved 13 June 2015. 
  32. ^ Bott, Ed (22 January 2013). "A close look at how Oracle installs deceptive software with Java updates". ZDNet. CBS Interactive. IAC, which partners with Oracle to deliver the Ask toolbar, uses deceptive techniques to install its software...The search page delivers inferior search results and uses misleading and possibly illegal techniques to deceive visitors into clicking paid ads instead of organic search results. 
  33. ^ "Ask Partner Network". Retrieved 20 November 2012. 
  34. ^ "Oracle will continue to bundle 'crapware' with Java". Computerworld. 28 January 2013. Bott found that the toolbar was not immediately installed, but waited 10 minutes after Java finished to kick in. "I've never seen a legitimate program with an installer that behaves this way", said Bott 
  35. ^ McKirdy, Eric. " Help Center". Retrieved 29 August 2014. 
  36. ^ "Microsoft Malware Protection Center - BrowserModifier:Win32/AskToolbarNotifier". Retrieved 11 June 2015. 
  37. ^ "About TV Spots". Archived from the original on April 10, 2007. Retrieved April 25, 2007. 
  38. ^ Ha, Anthony. " Returns to TV, Cautiously". AdWeek. Retrieved 12 November 2012. 
  39. ^ Vega, Tanzina. " Heralds a New Focus". New York Times. Retrieved 12 November 2012. 
  40. ^ Sandoval, Greg. "Hey, Times Square! I'm Google+. Please Notice Me". CNET. Retrieved 12 November 2012. 
  41. ^ Sullivan, Laurie. " Launches 'You Asked' Branding Campaign". Media Post. Retrieved 12 November 2012. 
  42. ^ Official Release (January 14, 2009). "– enters NASCAR with multi-faceted program". Archived from the original on June 28, 2011. Retrieved July 12, 2011. 
  43. ^ Duane Cross. "Labonte will drive No. 96 for Hall of Fame in 2009 – Jan 14, 2009". Archived from the original on July 14, 2011. Retrieved July 12, 2011. 
  44. ^
  45. ^ " Partners With NASCAR, Says "Super Verticals" Will Put It Back In Search Race". January 13, 2009. Retrieved July 12, 2011. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 37°48′13″N 122°16′31″W / 37.80361°N 122.27528°W / 37.80361; -122.27528