Yesterday we had mentioned that Ask has announced layoffs. Further there were speculations that, Ask might be thinking about abandoning or selling its "Teoma search engine" in favor of Google. And despite yesterday's reports which suggested that they'll keep their search engine and Teoma, however today it seems to be in doubt. According to a Reuters report, Ask.com will eliminate about 8% of its work force, amounting to about 40 jobs. It seems that inspite of its goal to improve its search portal and mobile initiatives, this move seems to be taken more out of a need, that anything else.
Today, it was announced by the New Ask CEO Jim Safka that the solid fourth-place search engine will be changing its focus to concentrate on its core user. Safka said that he had taken a close look at who uses Ask, which sees nearly 45 million visitors per month, and what they seek on the service. The company found that about 65 percent of its user base are women, with a high concentration of users in their late 30s in the U.S. Midwest and Southeast. That contrasts with the wider search market, where women account for closer to 48 percent of users. Therefore, from now onwards Ask will focus on, in the words of the Wall Street Journal, the users "who use the site to ask questions about topics like entertainment and health. To do that, the company will launch new products and enhance its technology through efforts like pulling in more community-generated answers."
However, it would be interesting to note that this move only raises more questions that it could actually answer. As only yesterday, some sources had told Reuters that Ask would definitely not abandon search. But taking a different tune, today, the CEO seems to tell Reuters that they will, with the new model reflecting either Yahoo Answers or Mahalo. On topics like entertainment and health. He said "as we revamped things, we had redundancies," explaining they "are reorienting the company around" areas they can grow.
This makes it slate clean that IAC CEO, Diller is not interested in standing strong against Google. In fact, the Wall Street Journal makes it glass clean by reporting that, Ask is focusing exclusively on women by asking questions about health and entertainment. Further, there also seems to be some grain of truth in the speculations that IAC is dropping Ask's technology. Though the job-profiles of the 40 laid off staffs aren't available to us, but one thing is sure that indeed Ask is changing is technology focus. So although the statement Ask.com gave us saying these rumors were false, there does seem to be some truth in the matter.
The list of forty laid-off staffs also includes Gary Price who announced this news on a blog. He was with Ask for two year and has been a key player in ResourceShelf & DocuTicker. With Ask kicking off its key-players and changing its technology focus; it seems that they have only made the search competition much easier for Google, Yahoo and Microsoft. And the way things are going it surely can be foreseen that it won't be long when we will see Google powering the Ask.com organic results.