IAC Completes Acquisition of Ask Jeeves: “IAC/InterActiveCorp (Nasdaq: IACI) today announced the successful completion of its acquisition of Ask Jeeves, a leading provider of information retrieval technologies, brands and Internet advertising services.”
As I previously reported in late March 2005, Barry Diller’s company IAC was proposing a $1.85 billion all-stock deal to acquire Ask Jeeves, Inc. The reason IAC wants Jeeves is because it was the last remaining major Web portal that they could use to tie IAC’s myriad of online real estate together, a long ambition of Diller since USA Networks’ (the predecessor company of USA Interactive, later renamed IAC/InterActiveCorp) multi-billion dollar proposal to buy Lycos, Inc., in 2000 was thwarted by an $11+ billion merger offer from Terra Networks SA that created Terra Lycos SA. (Terra has since gone back to the Terra Networks corporate moniker and sold off Lycos last year to Seoul, South Korea-based Daum Communications Corp. for under $100 million in cash.)
The deal makes sense; however, I have three suggestions for Ask Jeeves management. First, you’ll need to completely redesign your iWon and Excite Web portals if you plan to retain their popularity (and Web traffic) and ultimately increase that traffic. The sites are littered with pop-up ads, especially iWon where some pop-up ads manage to evade every pop-up blocking tool imaginable. You must do away with this advertising medium. Second, the site designs come across as simplistic and archaic. It’s time to spice things up, making the designs unified across each portal’s pages, rounding corners, antialiasing logos, and changing the colour scheme. Finally, while you’ve got decent products in terms of the MyJeeves personalized and archival search service, Ask Jeeves Desktop Search as well as Bloglines feed aggregation and management, you need to update the layout of the wire news aggregation pages of Excite, iWon, and MyWay and add RSS feeds for each news source and content type.