As part of the collateral damage of the bitter divorce between InterActiveCorp’s (IAC) John Malone and Barry Diller, Ask.com is going to abandon its efforts to ‘kill’ Google. The search engine is laying off 40 people (8% of its staff) and going in a new direction. Since 65% of their usership is female, it was reported widely via a story from the AP that they would be focusing on “married women looking for help managing their lives.” Whaaa? If that seems farfetched, it’s because it is.
The truth, according to a rep from IAC, is that they are focusing, rather, on general reference, health, and entertainment categories. Evidently, women only account for 48% of the general search population, so carving out a niche could be a good survival strategy. It seems like this is a step back to their days as Ask Jeeves. In our opinion, it’s a good move. When you asked Jeeves questions, you got answers. When you ask Ask.com a question, you get search results back. Why wouldn’t you just go to Google? We wonder if this new focus is going to have Askmen.com really pumping up the testosterone.
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In summary, Ask.com’s parent company is having some relationship problems and result is a 8% cut in staff and a refocus on female topics but NOT a site to exclusively help married women manage their lives. “Mommy and daddy love you very much and you’re getting fired isn’t about you, it’s about us. Now please have your stuff packed up in the next 15 minutes.”