Many of us may have forgotten that Ask.com is a search engine just like Google and Bing. It seems that IAC’s Barry Diller, who owns Ask.com, seems to have no memory of Ask’s value as well. Diller sat down with Michael Arrington today at TechCrunch Disrupt, and spoke candidly about the future of Ask.com.
Says Diller, “I don’t think Ask.com is going to gain search share; everyone copied us.” He added that Ask is not competitive with Google at all. When an audience member asked whether Ask would be more valuable outside of IAC rather than within the network; Diller quipped: Ask has no value inside of IAC, so why would it add value as a standalone site? He also said that IAC hasn’t been able to grow Ask the way he thought the company would be able to.
To Ask’s benefit, he did add that if you enter a natural language question into the search portal, Ask.com will give you a good answer. The company has tried to expand into the Q&A realm, recently launching a Quora-like feature to the search portal.
Ask, which was originally known as AskJeeves, was acquired by IAC in 2005 for $1.85 billion.
UPDATE: IAC and Barry Diller has issued this response: “I did not say that Ask has no value inside of IAC, period. In response to a specific question, I said that many of our assets are not ‘valued’ in the stock, and Ask is one of them…I was asked specifically if Ask would be better off with us or another company or standing alone. In the context of that question, I said that since it wasn’t valued in IAC – like so many of our businesses, because we have so many – that it would only be ‘valued’ stand alone.”
UPDATE 2: It was Google’s Don Dodge is person who posed the question to Diller; his interpretation seems to be the same as mine. Others reported the same response as well.
UPDATE 3: We looked at the video of Diller’s interview and he did definitely say Ask “has no value inside IAC,” but he was arguing more that the stock market doesn’t ascribe any value to it. Here is the full exchange, which starts at about the 24:30 mark (bold added for emphasis):
Q: “Do you believe Ask is worth more as a separate public company, or as part of IAC or as part of another company”
Diller: “Well you can never tell if it is worth more as part of another company because you don’t know what that other company would do with it. But as a standalone, I don’t think it would be, no. The truth is it has no value inside IAC, so I would think that it might have value standing alone. Because if you do a sum of the parts of IAC as against a private market value of any of these assets, and particularly Ask, I don’t think anybody ascribes any meaningful value to Ask.com”