It has emerged from the brink of extinction during the dot-com downturn to become consistently profitable. Unconstrained by financial worries, Ask Jeeves has initiated its most aggressive phase yet. Over the past few months, the company has made two major acquisitions and introduced new features that signal its intent to grab a bigger piece of a search market pie.
The most notable event for Ask Jeeves recently was its $501 million acquisition of Interactive Search Holdings, a private Irvington, N.Y., company with several Web sites. They include IWon, a search portal that attracts users with millions of dollars in cash prizes; Excite, a traditional portal; and MyWay, a bare-bones search engine.
Berkowitz describes the acquisition, which was finalized in May, as part of a strategy to own multiple brands with distinct personalities. Users, he said, want to access information differently, not necessarily in a one-size- fits-all model like Google and Yahoo.
Bob Davis, a venture capitalist who is the former chief executive of Terra Lycos, owner of the Lycos Web portal, compared the plan to television companies owning several channels in an effort to appeal to different demographics.