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Ask.com CEO Ready to Part Ways

After 18 months on the job, current Ask.com chief executive, Jim Safka, will be leaving the company.

The decision to leave was difficult for Jim, and it came about under very unfortunate circumstances. Jim’s brother recently passed away, causing Jim to re-evaluate his life. Marketing Pilgrim wishes Jim best of luck in his future endeavors.

Jim’s departure won’t be easy for Ask, as they are already far behind competitors in the search engine realm (only a 2.1% market share in March). Jim was originally hired to replace Jim Lanzone as part of the company’s shake up back in January 2008.

In an e-mail to the company’s staff, InterActiveCorp CEO Barry Diller acknowledged Jim’s contributions to the company:

Jim has demonstrated tremendous leadership during his tenure at IAC, first at Match.com and most recently at Ask.com, where he helped the Ask Network become the 6th largest in the U.S. and created the foundation for a new growth strategy that is showing early positive traction.

Ask will now be led by Scott Garell who has been promoted to President of Ask Networks. Scott joined Ask back in January 2008 at the same time as Jim.

I think the question we are all asking is, “Will this be the final straw that breaks Ask’s back?” Strong leadership is key to Ask’s survival, and only time will tell if Scott is capable of handling the pressure to turn Ask around.