As we mentioned yesterday, Ask.com has announced layoffs. Today they’ve said they’ll be “downsizing” 40 people, or 8% of their workforce. Meanwhile, despite yesterday’s reports that they’ll keep their search engine and Teoma, today that looks to be in doubt.
New CEO Jim Safka announced today that the solid fourth-place search engine will be changing its focus to concentrate on its core user. And no, that’s not you, it’s not me, and it’s not The Lisa, no matter how much we want it to be. Safka says that Ask.com’s demographics skew heavily toward southern and mid-western women over 30. On that note, they will not be catering to the “digerati” anymore (and I think that’s where you and I fall).
Instead, Ask will now focus on, as the Wall Street Journal put it (via paidContent), the users “who use the site to ask questions about topics like entertainment and health. To do that, he says the company will launch new products and enhance its technology through efforts like pulling in more community-generated answers.”
In many ways, this raises more questions than it answers. Yesterday, sources told Reuters that Ask would definitely not abandon search. 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. Gag me. (Guess that means I’m part of the scorned digerati.)
Erstwhile CEO Jim Lanzone long contended that it wasn’t Ask’s intention to be #1 or even #2 in search. Maybe that’s part of the reason why he’s no longer their CEO, but it looks like they’re giving up the fight altogether now.
Ask 3D, if this is the last farewell, I still love you, despite the fact that I almost never used you.