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The Internet

Ask Jeeves Bought for $2 billion 168

RMX writes "CNet's reporting that Ask Jeeves is being bought by InterActive Corp for $2 billion. Ask Jeeves (ask.com, excite.com, iwon.com) and InterActive Corp (expedia, ticketmaster, match.com, citysearch). This marks a nice comeback for Ask Jeeves, whose stock was quite a roller coaster ride during the 2000-2003 .com crash. Are the good times back?"
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Ask Jeeves Bought for $2 billion

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  • by bigtallmofo ( 695287 ) on Monday March 21, 2005 @10:02AM (#11998193)
    Do you think the creators of www.iwon.com had any idea they'd be in store for a $2,000,000,000 windfall?
  • Did anyone (Score:5, Insightful)

    by OAB_X ( 818333 ) on Monday March 21, 2005 @10:02AM (#11998194)
    Really ever use ask jeeves? I mean, I used it once or twice several years ago, but is it really that popular to be bought for 2 billion? I cant think of anyone who uses it consistently, or even rarely.
    • Re:Did anyone (Score:5, Informative)

      by REBloomfield ( 550182 ) on Monday March 21, 2005 @10:05AM (#11998227)
      all the non-technical staff here do, they seem to think that you can just ask it anything and it knows the answer. I've seen some really bad full sentence queries get put into it....
      • Ah, all in the marketing.

        I've tried it from time to time when google isn't palying fair but all I ever get back are the top twnety adds that have nothing to do with the query I typed.

        Try, what is the time?

        I'm from the UK, you can tell because a UK company hold my IP block.

        You get....
        Biometric time clocks
        South Carolina, United States current local time
        The official U.S. time
        and finally....
        The World Clock - Time Zones

        If I try the UK only I get this come up second [ask.co.uk]

        A web page that calculates GMT using you
      • My best friend just bought a PC. He has difficulty with computers in general (we're still working on importing songs to iTunes).

        I continously tell him to "google" something when he has a question, but his seach engine skills need work. Yesterday his female roommate told him to "ask jeeves"...(what is baklava?). For whatever reason, Jeeves worked out for him, and he proceeded to get himself answers to all the questions he's had in a while.

        I think because it encourages the user to literally ask a question

    • by Anonymous Coward
      I don't know. Did they? [ask.com]
    • Does anyone really ever use ask jeeves?

      I asked Jeeves, and I got this:
      Many people use Ask Jeeves because it has a picture of a butler [reviewcentre.com]
      • "I asked Jeeves, and I got this: Many people use Ask Jeeves because it has a picture of a butler"

        That seems similar to Slashdot. I asked it, and I got a picture of a butt. (insert tinyurl Goatse link here).

      • Why can't there be a search engine with a picture of a cuntler or a titler? I suppose there are those who would prefer a picture of a cockler, as well.

        What about MY needs?
    • Re:Did anyone (Score:3, Informative)

      by Reignking ( 832642 )
      Homer Simpson uses Ask Jeeves. He wrote on a Flintstones map last night "Dino. Short for dinosaur? Ask Jeeves."
      • He also revealed that he spends his mornings at work googling his own name. If it wasn't official before, it is now: Google is a verb!
      • Homer Simpson uses Ask Jeeves. He wrote on a Flintstones map last night "Dino. Short for dinosaur? Ask Jeeves."

        I know, I shut my TV off in disgust at that point.
        Wasting valuable joke time with advertising for inferior products... bleah!
        • This episode of the Simpsons was so bad it made me cringe.

          Oh look, Homer bought an RV! I haven't seen this in... 16 years.
    • Re:Did anyone (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Stevyn ( 691306 )
      Well just think of it this way. If google has more competition, then it will need to create an even better product in the future. I use google exclusively and I think it's a great search engine. However, I would not want it to push every other search engine out of the water. Then they'd never innovate and it'd eventually suck.

      So while I don't use ask jeeves, I'm glad some people do.
    • Re:Did anyone (Score:3, Interesting)

      by northcat ( 827059 )
      People seem to think that you can ask real questions with ask jeeves. The results I get with questions on ask jeeves are actually worse than results I get through google for the same query (question).
    • Re:Did anyone (Score:5, Interesting)

      by garcia ( 6573 ) * on Monday March 21, 2005 @10:20AM (#11998368)
      I can tell you that the only time I was getting hits from Ask Jeeves is when I was banning a stalker from viewing my gallery. Ask Jeeves had apparently indexed my gallery at one point (ignoring the robots.txt) and had not removed it at any time.

      I started seeing these OBNOXIOUS log entries with referrers from ask.com (see here [lazylightning.org]).

      I finally had to email ask.com to have them removed. They ignored my first request and then finally removed it after a repeated request. They certainly weren't as easy to deal w/as Google's removal tool.

      Personally? I'd never use anything other than Google.
    • Re:Did anyone (Score:5, Insightful)

      by yelvington ( 8169 ) on Monday March 21, 2005 @10:31AM (#11998452) Homepage
      It's not just about AskJeeves, it's about the entire stable of sites/brands/technologies that it owns: Teoma (search technology), Excite, iWon, MyWay and Bloglines. In that collection, there's actually more usage outside the Ask brand that inside it. Here's a recent snapshot. [searchenginewatch.com]

    • I could be wrong, but I believe Ask Jeeves has a few large corporate clients that use it for a kind of "auto-FAQ"/support system within their own sites ... but I still wonder if the posted didn't mean 2 *million*.
    • Re:Did anyone (Score:3, Informative)

      by rtt ( 770388 )

      From The Register [theregister.co.uk]:
      Ask Jeeves is the seventh most popular search site in the UK with 1.9 per cent of total searches, Google is a long way in front with 63 per cent. Figures from Hitwise [hitwise.co.uk].

      Nope... no one uses Ask Jeeves.
    • Really ever use ask jeeves? I mean, I used it once or twice several years ago, but is it really that popular to be bought for 2 billion?

      Good question. So I asked Jeeves the question, and didn't get much of an answer either -- What is the value of the ask jeeves website? [ask.com]

      Interesting enough, google [google.com] had better results on the question than Jeeves did.
    • We use Ask Jeeves for all our internal sites (we purchased their JeevesOne product) and it works fairly well.
    • this guy [satirewire.com] did, once.
    • I've been too busy using Aks Jeeves, the original's more attitude-driven alternative:

      Aks Jeeves [ebaumsworld.com] -- you'll need Flash and an indifference to coarse language...

      "Shut the fuck up motherfucker. Can't you see I'm busy?" -- gold!

    • Re:Did anyone (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kesuki ( 321456 )
      I use ask.com anytime google pulls up too many sites to sift through.. the Ask engine is designed to anylize english sentances, and return the best matches that are relevant to an ENTIRE sentance. Google is good, but it's just a really fast keyword search tool. keywords will often times return too many results, which is why google has Page Rank technology, which extended the life and value of keyword searching... but it's still a primative form of searching... it's like going to a card catalog of the enti
    • I never used it but according to register [theregister.co.uk] some surfers do: "Ask Jeeves is the seventh most popular search site in the UK with 1.9 per cent of total searches, Google is a long way in front with 63 per cent"
    • Same story here: tried it a few times, didn't see any advantages over a "normal" search engine.

      It is however true that many people have a hard time writing good queries. On one of the services here, the top query is for the web address of the service, which is a strange thing to look for if you've obviously already found it.

      The second most frequent query is for the biggest competitor.

    • Homer does!

      Lisa: "Wait! There's writing at the bottom! 'Dino - short for dinosaur? Remember to Ask Jeeves"
  • Great! (Score:3, Funny)

    by spywhere ( 824072 ) on Monday March 21, 2005 @10:03AM (#11998207)
    Wider distribution for the nightmarish mix of malware provided through AskJeeves!
    • Actually I look for this to be the death of it. I had thought that selling Excite to @home for 6 billion was the biggest rip-off to every hit the web, but this one might take the cake.

      Here is a fun one.

      What is the fastest Pentium Processor?

      And (drum roll please) the first Web result is .....

      How Fast Is The 400MHz Pentium* II Processor? [harmony-central.com]

      I'll stick with asking G [google.com] instead.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Bring on the good times. I'm going to start a search engine called askstrongbad.com and it's gonna make billions and be the best thing out there since that techno song I heard one time!
    • I would actually use Ask Strongbad (e.g. "what goes best with a tuna sandwich?") as the response would be much more illuminating (and useful) than Ask Jeeves.

      I would even pay for the burninator plug-in.
  • The Poster Askes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Kushy ( 225928 ) * <kush.marakush@com> on Monday March 21, 2005 @10:03AM (#11998212) Homepage
    Are the good times back?

    Yes they are just not for the USA. Its a good time for India and China, with cheap ass CEO's CFO's CTO's, all outsourcing.

    I really do not see any 'good times' ahead for IT ppl in the US.

    • Well I must admit that outsourcing has become a problem but the problem lays in how we're dealing with it as well. Now I'll be the first to admit that I hate the large multi-billion dollar transnational corperations. I don't have a hard time believing that they're corrupt and just plain evil but I also must see the fact that there's a way around this.

      On a whole if your IT job was outsourced than it was proablly not a very unique or important job. The 1990s saw a rise in a lot of people getting trained
    • Maybe time to immigrate? Both China and India have big borders and coastlines, so it shouldn't be too hard to sneak in. Fitting in might be a little harder. What's hindi for wetback? (for those who choose to swim ashore).
    • Let's assume we all accept your premise that out sourcing is a bad outcome resulting from 'cheap ass' CEO's. What should the American government do to put a stop to it?
  • by CSMastermind ( 847625 ) <freight_train10@hotmail.com> on Monday March 21, 2005 @10:04AM (#11998217)
    I think this represents a good thing for Ask Jeeves. I remember 5 years or so ago in school when we had to take a class on internet basics and we learned about screach engines. Ask Jeeves was my faviorite because it was one of the few that made sense. But over time I learned about Google and www.alltheweb.com, and I stopped using Ask because I found it's layout overbearing and hard to navigate. Ask also suffered from a poor marketing stragity. I think that if they can reorganize the company then it will be a very positive thing.
    • I remember 5 years or so ago in school when we had to take a class on internet basics and we learned about screach engines. Ask Jeeves was my faviorite because it was one of the few that made sense. But over time I learned about Google and www.alltheweb.com, and I stopped using Ask because I found it's layout overbearing and hard to navigate.

      5 years ago it acted as a sort of meta search engine, it would basically pull results from other sources and rate them for you (like, if you asked a question about mo
  • So... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Mindjiver ( 71 ) on Monday March 21, 2005 @10:04AM (#11998218) Homepage
    did anyone care to ask Jeeves what he thinks of this?
  • myway (Score:3, Informative)

    by platos_beard ( 213740 ) on Monday March 21, 2005 @10:04AM (#11998222)
    Askjeeves owns myway.com, a portal with the motto "no banners, no ads, no kidding" Let's hope they don't mess with that.
    • I don't believe that's a concern just yet. Diller has munched up many properties. The information has been silo'd site by site the entire time.

      I believe this to be due to the forceful marriage of technology teams. It takes time for developers to warm up to each other. Developers wisely tend to wait until all the proper NDAs land on their desk before wantonly handing out their knowledge. This creates delays. The benefits/detriments of each site's technology won't filter down to development for sever

  • by ciroknight ( 601098 ) on Monday March 21, 2005 @10:04AM (#11998224)
    It seems like when some new, highly exploitable technology comes out, hundreds of little companies start out. Those companies slowly die out, and the ones that are left, are gobbled up by the largest of the remaining companies, and it leaves room for the new, baby companies again.

    Holds true for cars, computers, and now, .coms. Interesting..
    • Let's just hope it's the same for commercial space flight.
    • A 5 Mod? No way..Tell me what new car company have you seen in the last 25 years? DeLorean was the only one and it went under. And I didn't realize cars were ever a "highly exploitable technology" even in the Model T days. How about computers? IBM went down a bit, Dell, Gateway, HP and others crept in but there have been NO new serious players in over 10 years. As for CPUs there hasn't been any new CPU chips mfgs in quite a while, speciality chips like DSPs and ASICs is where the new entries have been. Dot
  • by AtariAmarok ( 451306 ) on Monday March 21, 2005 @10:05AM (#11998230)
    With $2 billion in his pocket, maybe he can afford now to pay his OWN butler.
    • With $2 billion in his pocket, maybe he can afford now to pay his OWN butler.

      AskJeeves'Butler.com?

      AskJeeves'Secretary.com?

      Schedule AnAppointmentWithJeeves.com?

      HaveYourSecretaryCallJeeves'SecretaryAndThey'llD oLunch.com?

  • Bloglines too (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 21, 2005 @10:06AM (#11998238)
    Ask Jeeves, Inc. also owns Bloglines [bloglines.com].

    Did InterActive own any blog type services prior to this acquisition?
  • Could be that everyone is consolidating so it will be easier for MS to just buy everything at one sale.
    • yeah ..I think its not just me..why are we suddenly hearing so many News of acquring?? is it the last ditch to save money or they see a bright future (corporations i mean)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    1. In soviet Russia, Jeeves asks YOU!

    2. In Korea, only old people ask Jeeves.

    3. I, for one, welcome our new butler overlords.

    and finally...

    4. I AM a butler, you insensitive clod!

  • Summary (Score:3, Insightful)

    by northcat ( 827059 ) on Monday March 21, 2005 @10:15AM (#11998322) Journal
    Ask Jeeves ( ask.com, excite.com , iwon.com ) and InterActive Corp ( expedia, ticketmaster, match.com, citysearch).

    That's not even a sentence.
    • Picky, aren't ya?

      And WTF 2 billion? Is it actually *WORTH* that? I mean it's a crappy search engine tied to a database and a couple 486 DX's running the server...

      I mean hell just the HARDWARE that google owns is worth more than all that Ask Jeeves can put together [hardware/software and IP wise].

      I don't even think we're dealing with "real life" anymore. I mean why not just sell it for a billion cajillion dollars?

      And you can be sure that your "ticket fees" and other assorted fees at InterActive will g
    • You were expecting copy editing before the dupe^Wsecond draft?
    • That's not even a sentence.

      Sure it is. It's telling you to ask Jeeves and InterActive Corp., that they can vouch for the story's authenticity. With Slashdot, it's best to double-check these things. :-D
  • by magicclams ( 778966 ) on Monday March 21, 2005 @10:20AM (#11998370)
    Given that the company made about $86 million last year, the selling price ($1.9 billion) represents a price to earnings ratio of ~22...a bit on the high side, but not out of line with a company whose earnings more than doubled last year. Given that this is a profitable survivor acquiring another profitable survivor, I don't think this represents a slide back into the (good? bad?) old days of multi-billion dollar valuations for stocks that barely have a business plan. As for that profitability, it may seem odd to those of us who take it for granted that a query like "prescription drugs canada" makes more sense than "Where can I buy prescription drugs in Canada?", but we're tech geeks. Ask around..."Jeeves" is the portal of choice for the techno-phobic middle-aged and elderly, who typically have a much higher money-to-brains ratio than computer geeks.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      They didn't make $86M, they made $17.5M, putting the p/e ratio at a ridiculous 114.
    • You say that people want to ask questions rather than put in search terms. There are a few things wrong with that:
      1. People hate typing. I would expect more people to enter "prescpt drugs CA" than "Where can I buy prescription drugs in Canada"
      2. Entering "Where can I buy prescription drugs in Canada" into google returns very relevent results. As a user, you don't need to know that google ignores the words "where", "can", "I", and "in".

      So maybe there is a place in the market for a search engine front end

  • by i_want_you_to_throw_ ( 559379 ) on Monday March 21, 2005 @10:22AM (#11998381) Journal
    Historically everytime there has been a new technology there has been a "bubble" (You didn't think the internet bubble was the first bubble did you?

    Money gets thrown in at a breakneck pace, there's a bubble for a few years and then KABOOM! Market implosion when reality finally hits.

    Then after the smoke clears and the dust settles a new golden age begins followed by consolidation. I think it's safe to say that we are in consolidation mode now. Now is the time that the lasting 1600 pound gorillas get formed. Interactive Corp is one of those gorillas along with Ebay and Amazon.
  • Are they? (Score:2, Funny)

    by northcat ( 827059 )
    Are the good times back?

    Let's ask jeeves [ask.com]!
  • by adrianbye ( 452416 ) on Monday March 21, 2005 @10:26AM (#11998415)
    With the costs/value of traffic rising, sites that have a lot of traffic are being bought. Their value should increase significantly over the next few years. This is also why about.com was bought recently.

  • Complete with nifty headline:

    Ask Jeeves if it's been bought [theregister.co.uk]
  • by drkich ( 305460 ) <dkichline AT gmail DOT com> on Monday March 21, 2005 @10:30AM (#11998438) Homepage
    I find that kind of amusing.
  • Wow. (Score:1, Funny)

    by LouCifer ( 771618 )
    Somebody had $2BN burning a hole in their pocket eh?

    Looks like somebody got ripped off too.

  • From the article:

    Under the terms of the deal, IAC will issue 1.26 shares of its common stock for each share of Ask Jeeves common stock in a tax-free transaction

    Thus this doesn't really say anything at all about the real value. Just one bubble merging with another bubble. I would be more impressed if they offered to buy the shares with real money instead of shares in another company.

    • IAC said that it intends to buy back at least 60 percent of the shares it plans to issue for acquisition through previously authorized share repurchase programs.

      So it'll work out to being a bit less than a 60% cash deal on a 1.85gigabuck purchase.

      Still a lot of real money.

  • Q: So, Jeeves, what is it like being hooked into the internet?

    A: Beekeeping in New Zealand [satirewire.com].

    Fucker can buy a lot of bees for 2 Billion.
  • Since I got my first 'Ask Jeeves' popunder in Firefox last night they can go boil their heads.
  • It's being sold for $1.85 billion. Two very different numbers.
  • by PeeAitchPee ( 712652 ) on Monday March 21, 2005 @11:48AM (#11999370)
    . . . get the answer here [ask.com].
  • This is weird (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hqm ( 49964 ) on Monday March 21, 2005 @12:05PM (#11999605)
    I tried to use Ask Jeeves a couple of times when it came out, and the answers I got to my questions were so bad, so wrong, so utterly useless, it hurt my feelings.

    Try it now, it will take you back to the bad old days before Google, when nothing but random crap shows up. Then try Google, and feel the almost mystical connection from your query to your results.

    It seems to me like it is almost a crime that no one has forcibly made the users of Ask Jeeves sit down and try Google.
  • Jees, I don't think being bought by ticketmaster is anything to get excited about!

    And I thought Microsoft owned Expedia?

    Did anyone ever use Jeeves even in it's prime? I always thought it was pretty useless....
  • Not bought, swapped (Score:3, Informative)

    by Animats ( 122034 ) on Monday March 21, 2005 @01:01PM (#12000457) Homepage
    It's a stock swap merger, not a cash buy. "Under the terms of Monday's deal, IAC will issue 1.26 shares of its common stock for each share of Ask Jeeves common stock in a tax-free transaction valued at $1.85 billion, discounting any cash involved in the buyout."

    Like most mergers, it will probably be a dud. The performance history of merger and acquisition activity is, overall, negative. But because it increases volatility, it enhances CEO pay.

  • I would like to know whether Ask Jeeves started to talk with InterActiveCorp before of after buying Bloglines.
  • IAC also owns my employer, ServiceMagic.com

    Try it out next time you need a maid, mover, plumber, electrician, or other home contractor!

    </utterly shameless plug>

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