7 years ago

Barry Diller: You can’t compete head-on with Google

Barry Diller, the chairman and CEO of IAC, is largely shuttering the company’s Ask.com search engine in frustration.

The company dismissed much of Ask.com’s engineering staff, consolidated operations in Oakland, Calif., and relegated the search engine to a scaled down question and answer format,  Bloomberg reports.


Ask.com, purchased by IAC in 2005, had a low single-digit search market share and never found a way to make headway against its larger rivals, including Google, Bing and Yahoo.

But, especially Google.

“We’ve realized in the last few years you can’t compete head on with Google,” Diller told Bloomberg.

And, Ask.com president Doug Leeds expanded on the theme.

“It’s become this huge juggernaut of a company that we really thought we could compete against by innovating,” Leeds told Bloomberg, referring to Google. “We did a great job of holding our market share but it wasn’t enough to grow the way IAC had hoped we would grow when it bought us.”

Both statements were interesting given Diller’s role in a side business, Expedia Inc., where he is chairman and senior executive.

Expedia, of course, is active in FairSearch.org, the coalition trying to organize opposition to Google’s proposed acquisition of ITA Software, which is subject to Department of Justice review.

Some in the Google-ITA camp would argue that the coalition is looking for government intervention to stop the deal as an easy way out instead of letting free market competition and innovation rule.

On the other hand, opponents of the deal would reply that if Google gets ITA Software in the fold, then their combined grip on advertising and air search would be almost insurmountable and anticompetitive.

The Justice Department is studying the issue.

Of course, the Google-Ask.com competition — if you could call it that — was of a much different nature than the battlefront that travel metasearch and online travel agencies would face in a Google-ITA combo.

Still, Ask.com learned what it was like to go up against the all-powerful Google — and for Ask.com it’s a sad day and all too late now.

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Dennis Schaal

About the Writer :: Dennis Schaal

Dennis Schaal was North American editor for Tnooz.



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