Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Former Ask CEO Jim Lanzone Speaks!

BoomTown had a lovely lunch yesterday with Jim Lanzone, former CEO of Ask, the little search engine that, well, tries, at least.

Lanzone had been at the company, which is owned by Barry Diller’s InteractiveCorp (IACI), for more than a half-dozen years, before stepping down in January in a management reshuffle at the company that put Match.com CEO Jim Safka at the top of Ask.

At the time, Diller praised Lanzone copiously in a statement, but noted that “these changes are intended to strengthen and streamline the operating structure at IAC, both leading up to our intended spinoffs, and beyond.”

For those not following IAC’s tribulations of late, Diller is currently embroiled in a vitriolic fight over control of the company with one of its biggest shareholders, Liberty Media, and its voluble leader John Malone.

That’s no longer Lanzone’s problem, although he remains a consultant to Ask for a little while longer and is also an entrepreneur-in-residence at Redpoint Ventures. He told BoomTown that he is still trying to figure out what to do next, but wants to remain on the product side of the consumer Internet business.

I like Lanzone a lot, especially given the more innovative and even aggressive efforts Ask has made to gain ground and try to put a dent in Google’s market share in recent years, laudable efforts a larger player like Yahoo might have been trying as hard.

While we despised the high-concept Kato Kaelin ads (see it once again posted below the Lanzone video to see why) Ask used this summer, BoomTown does not blame Lanzone for them–paging Barry Diller! All is forgiven anyway, since they were junked.

In any case, here is a video interview with Lanzone done yesterday, in which we talked about where search was headed:

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald