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The Algorithm With the Lead Pipe in the Lounge

Published on January 10, 2008
by John Paczkowski

algorithm.jpgBarry Diller may have managed to turn Fox into a legitimate fourth major broadcast network. But he hasn’t had much luck doing the same thing with Ask.com in search. Despite Diller’s best efforts, Ask’s share of the search market dropped to 4.6% in November from 5% in November 2006, according to comScore.

“We have certainly not bitten an inch out of the hide of Google,” Diller said earlier this week. “I’ve been daunted by the progress of that. … The challenge of the year … is to get people to try [Ask], experiment with it and then adopt it.”

With that in mind, Diller’s making some changes. Ask.com Chief Executive Officer Jim Lanzone–who claimed the CEO spot in April 2006 when Steve Berkowitz took a job at Microsoft–is leaving the company in a management shake-upr that will see former Match.com CEO Jim Safka take his place. wheres_jim.gif

News of the leadership change comes as Ask parent InterActiveCorp prepares to spin off its HSN (Home Shopping Network), Ticketmaster, Interval International and LendingTree properties. “These changes are intended to strengthen and streamline the operating structure at IAC, both leading up to our intended spin-offs, and beyond,” said IAC CEO Diller.

Well, we’ll have to see about that. Certainly, Safka seems like a worthy candidate for the job. As CEO of Match.com from 2004 to 2006, he grew the site’s membership and revenues substantially. That said, Lanzone is also a very smart guy. If he wasn’t able to turn Ask into a legitimate player in the search market, one wonders if anyone can.

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