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January 04, 2007

Ask.com Wants to Be a Traffic Cop for IAC/InteractiveCorp

posted by MR WAVETHEORY at 1/04/2007 07:57:00 AM
Internet investors will find an interesting interview by Tony Perkins with Jim Lanzone, boss of Ask.com. Ask.com was acquired by IAC/InteractiveCorp (Nasdaq IACI) for about $1.85 billion. IAC/InteractiveCorp owns a slew of properties like Shoebuy, CitySearch, and Match.com and they all have one common problem: How to get traffic?

That's where Ask.com is coming in.

Among all the runner up search engines, Ask.com is in the pole position.

Ask can be the fourth or fifth ranked search engine but the sixth largest web property in the United States, ahead of Amazon and MySpace. So while we’re not Google, Microsoft or Yahoo in size, we’re bigger than nearly everybody else. And even just specifically within search, when it comes to query volume, we’re closer in order of magnitude of 6 percent share to Google at 42 or to Yahoo at 28 than anybody below us is to Ask. And we’re just at an interesting point in the marketplace.

Ask.com dreams of being the traffic cop for IAC properties, but I have to wondering that use of the word synergy.

So when you look at Ask, the other IC companies are licking their chops because they would look at us as a strong central hub for the rest of the IC network over time, especially as you build share for Ask and we get larger. And on the other hand for Ask, we look at those other companies as great sources of data that will help us build differentiated products in the different areas of search that we address. So, Ask does represent a new opportunity for IC to go in the direction of synergy and any kind of help that we can all lend each other, and I think that’s a first for the company.

Ask.com can grow much faster.

"If they [Google, Microsoft, Yahoo] add a point of share, that’ll help them make a quarter. Whereas, if you add a point of share to Ask, it’s 15, 16 percent growth, and that’s growth in revenue. So, for us, our growth opportunity is actually as a percentage of growth just huge compared to the rest of them.

We'll see what happens.

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