Type of business Private
Type of site
Answer engine
Available in English
Founded June 1996 (1996-06) (as Ask Jeeves)
Headquarters Oakland, California, U.S.
Owner IAC
Created by Garrett Gruener
David Warthen (Founders)
Douglas Leeds (CEO)
Alexa rank Decrease 90 (July 2016)[1]
Registration Optional
Current status Active (originally known as Ask Jeeves) is a question answering-focused e-business and web search engine founded in 1996 by Garrett Gruener and David Warthen in Berkeley, California.

The original software was implemented by Gary Chevsky from his own design. Warthen, Chevsky, Justin Grant, and others built the early website around that core engine. In late 2010, facing insurmountable competition from more popular search engines, the company outsourced its web search technology and returned to its roots as a question and answer site.[2] Douglas Leeds was elevated from president to CEO in 2010.[3] has been criticized for its browser toolbar, which has been accused of behaving like malware due to its bundling with other software and the difficulty of its uninstallation.

Three venture capital firms, Highland Capital Partners, Institutional Venture Partners, and The RODA Group were early investors.[4] is currently owned by InterActiveCorp (IAC) under the NASDAQ symbol NASDAQ: IAC.'s corporate headquarters are located at 555 City Center, in the Oakland City Center development in downtown Oakland, California.


Jeeves, appears when users go to, As of April 2016 was originally known as Ask Jeeves, "Jeeves" being the name of a "gentleman's gentleman", or valet, fetching answers to any question asked. The character was based on Bertie Wooster's valet Jeeves, in the fictional works of P. G. Wodehouse. In movies, the Jeeves character was played by Arthur Treacher, the English actor who lent his name to another American franchise, Arthur Treacher's fish and chips.

The original idea behind Ask Jeeves was to allow users to get answers to questions posed in everyday, natural language, as well as by traditional keyword searching. The current still supports this, with support for math, dictionary, and conversion questions.

In 2005 the company announced plans to phase out Jeeves and on February 27, 2006, the character disappeared from He was stated to be "going into retirement." However, the UK/Ireland edition of the website prominently brought the character back in 2009.

IAC owns a variety of sites including country-specific sites for UK, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, and Spain along with Ask Kids, Teoma (now ExpertRank[5]) and several others. On June 5, 2007, relaunched with a 3D look.[6]

On May 16, 2006, Ask implemented a "Binoculars Site Preview" into its search results. On search results pages, the "Binoculars" let searchers have a sneak peek of the page they could visit with a mouse-over activating a pop-up screenshot.

In December 2007, Ask released the AskEraser feature,[7] allowing users to opt-out from tracking of search queries and IP and cookie values. They also vowed to erase this data after 18 months if the AskEraser option is not set. HTTP cookies must be enabled for AskEraser to function.[8][9]

An search of Wikipedia.

On July 4, 2008, InterActiveCorp announced the acquisition of Lexico Publishing Group, which owns,, and[10][11]

On July 26, 2010, released a closed-beta Q&A service. The service was released to the public on July 29, 2010.[12] launched its mobile Q&A app for the iPhone in late 2010.[13] now reaches 100 million global users per month[14] through its website with more than 2 million downloads of its flagship mobile app.[15] The company has also released additional apps spun out of its Q&A experience, including Ask Around[16] in 2011 and PollRoll[17] in 2012.

Search engine shut-down

In 2010, abandoned the search industry, with the loss of 130 search engineering jobs, because it could not compete against more popular search engines such as Google. Earlier in the year, Ask had launched a Q&A community for generating answers from real people as opposed to search algorithms then combined this with its question-and–answer repository, utilizing its extensive history of archived query data to search sites that provide answers to questions people have.[18] To avoid a situation in which no answers were available from its own resources, the company outsourced to an unnamed third-party search provider the comprehensive web search matches that it had gathered itself.[19]

Ask Sponsored Listings

Formerly the direct sales engine for, Ask Sponsored Listings is no longer available, having merged with Sendori, an operating business of IAC, in 2011.[20]

Corporate details headquarters in Oakland, California

Ask Jeeves, Inc. stock traded on the NASDAQ stock exchange from July 1999 to July 2005, under the ticker symbol ASKJ. In July 2005, the ASKJ ticker was retired upon the acquisition by IAC, valuing at US$1.85 billion.

In 2012 made two acquisitions as part of a larger strategy to offer more content on the website. On July 2, 2012, purchased content discovery start-up,[21] nRelate, for an undisclosed amount. That was followed by the company's acquisition of expert advice and information site, which closed in September 2012.[22]

On August 14, 2014, acquired popular social networking website, ASKfm, where users can ask other users questions, with the option of anonymity.[23] As of August 14, 2014, had 180 million monthly unique users in more than 150 countries around the world,[24] with its largest user base in the United States.[25] Available on the web and as a mobile app, ASKfm generates an estimated 20,000 questions per minute with approximately 45 percent of its mobile monthly active users logging in daily.[26] To date, the mobile app has been downloaded more than 40 million times.[26]

Toolbar criticism

The Ask browser toolbar is an extension that can appear as an extra bar added to the browser's window and/or menu. In early versions, it was often unintentionally installed during the installation of partner software, including Oracle Java, i.e., taking advantage of a user's lack of technical experience.[27] As an operating business of IAC, Ask Partner Network had also historically entered into partnerships with some software security vendors, whereby they distributed the toolbar alongside their software.[28] Installer packages for partner companies had an option (opt-out) to install the Ask toolbar and/or change the user's default browser home page to[29] and its parent company IAC have therefore been criticized for promoting a toolbar that behaves like malware—that it was surreptitiously bundled with legitimate program installations, e.g., Oracle's Java, that it could not be easily removed from common browsers once installed, that consumers installed the software unwittingly, that the toolbar redefined the user's home page to, and that presented biased search results.[27][30] As early toolbar versions could not be easily removed using built-in uninstall features, it was considered a "potentially unwanted program".[31][32] A further criticism was a ten-minute delay that was built into the installation, between updating Java and appearance of the Ask toolbar.[33] The company defended these early business decisions, pointing out that instructions to remove the toolbar could be found at the Help Center.[34]

As of June 2015, no longer bundles with Oracle's Java (which now features a Yahoo!).[35] As of June 2015, Microsoft does not consider the toolbar that is being provided by to be unwanted software, but they state that older versions of the toolbar pose "a high threat to your PC," and they provide tools for detecting and removing them.[36]

Marketing and promotion

Apostolos Gerasoulis, the co-creator of Ask's Teoma algorithmic search technology, starred in four television advertisements in 2007, extolling the virtues of's usefulness for information relevance.[37] A Jeeves balloon appeared in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade through 2000-2004.

After a hiatus from mass consumer marketing, Ask returned to TV advertising in the fall of 2011 after refocusing its site on questions and answers.[38] Instead of national advertising, Ask focused on local markets with basic creative. In the summer of 2012, Ask launched a national cinema campaign,[39] along with other out-of-home tactics in certain markets such as New York and Seattle.[40]

As part of a Seattle-based local market effort, launched its “You Asked We Answered”[41] campaign in 2012, in which the company “answered” residents' top complaints about living in their city, including easing morning commutes and stadium traffic, as well as keeping the local Parks and Rec department wading pools open.

On January 14, 2009, became the official sponsor of 2000 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Bobby Labonte's No. 96 Ford. Ask would become the official search engine of NASCAR.[42] will be the primary sponsor for the No. 96 for 18 of the first 21 races and has rights to increase this to a total of 29 races this season.[43] The car debuted in the 2009 Bud Shootout where it failed to finish the race, but subsequently returned strongly, placing as high as 5th in the March 1, 2009 Shelby 427 race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.[44]'s foray into NASCAR represents the first instance of its venture into what it calls "Super Verticals".[45]


  1. " Site Info". Alexa Internet. Retrieved 2016-07-26.
  2. Kopytoff, Verne G. (November 9, 2010). " Giving Up Search to Return to Q-and-A Service". The New York Times.
  3. "IAC Management". IAC. Archived from the original on 2012-01-05.
  4. "Ask Jeeves, Inc. initial public offering prospectus". Archived from the original on June 29, 2011. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
  5. Search Technology. Retrieved on May 11, 2009.
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  14. Sterling, Greg. "Ask CEO Doug Leeds Proclaims Search Wars "Over," Says Yahoo Can Be Great Again". Search Engine Land. Retrieved 16 October 2012.
  15. Knight, Kristina. "How Tina Fey inspired to change". BizReport. Retrieved 16 October 2012.
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  17. Spirrison, Brad. " hits the polls with Pollroll". Appolicious. Retrieved 16 October 2012.
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  19. Kopytoff, Verne (November 9, 2010). " to Return to Old Service". New York Times. New York Times. Retrieved 27 August 2013.
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  21. de Senerpont Domis, Olaf. "Q&A with's CEO and nRelate's Founder". The Deal Pipeline. Archived from the original on 10 July 2012. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
  22. Stewart, Christopher. "Times Co. Sells for $300 Million". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
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  24. Curtis, Sophie. "Tinder owner buys social network ASKfm". The Telegraph. The Telegraph. Retrieved 29 August 2014.
  25. Sullivan, Laurie. " Acquires Q&A Social Network, Prepares To Add Tools To Increase Safety". Media Post. Media Post. Retrieved 29 August 2014.
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  32. Rashid, Fahmida. "How to remove the Toolbar from your browser". PCmag. Ziff Davis. Retrieved 8 January 2014.
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  35. Keizer, Gregg (June 12, 2015). "Microsoft deletes older browser toolbars, but ignores Oracle's new crapware" (online). Computer World. Retrieved 3 August 2015. Microsoft took what appeared to be a shot at Oracle's wallet this month when it switched on search-and-destroy in its security software for older versions of the Ask browser toolbar, which has long been bundled with Java even in the face of users' complaints.
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  40. Sandoval, Greg. "Hey, Times Square! I'm Google+. Please Notice Me". CNET. Retrieved 12 November 2012.
  41. Sullivan, Laurie. " Launches 'You Asked' Branding Campaign". Media Post. Retrieved 12 November 2012.
  42. Official Release (January 14, 2009). "– enters NASCAR with multi-faceted program". Archived from the original on June 28, 2011. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
  43. Duane Cross. "Labonte will drive No. 96 for Hall of Fame in 2009 – Jan 14, 2009". Archived from the original on July 14, 2011. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
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External links

Coordinates: 37°48′13″N 122°16′31″W / 37.80361°N 122.27528°W / 37.80361; -122.27528

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