Danny welcomes everyone and then lists down all of Barry Diller's hundred credentials.
Danny: The official launch of Ask.com happened today. Why make that change and why not a more radical change? Barry: said, I always loved Ask. It is a fine word for a search engine. Barry said he looks like Jeeves... He said it was a nice emotional touch to Ask. But he thought Jeeves demoted something that would disallow Ask from becoming the search engine it could be. He said it is a good brand, but people will get over it as they use Ask.
Danny: Your famous for creating the fourth major network of TV. Now you are trying it with the search engine industry. How do you do that? Barry: First you need to try it. Does Ask do what a search engine have to do? Is it differentiated? When building Fox, they built an "alternative network" and they want to build an alternative search engine. If you look at how Ask presents and delivers the information, that is the differentiation. What matters is not the market share, right now, it is about serving relevant ads. Before Ask couldn't compete - with all the ads on it, but now Ask can.
Danny: He brings up MSN giving away presents to search. Barry does it with iWon... Barry: You need to think about the long run. Google doesn't spend a nickel on marketing. Barry said we will not leave it by word of mouth. Ask is coming in after the category has been popularized. So they need to do every single thing they can think of to market Ask. But the bottom line is the differentiated features. Ask is concentrating on everyday search, whereas others are working on different products. People are going to say, yes I will use it or not.
Danny: How do you categorize your competition? Do you look at Google and who they attract, Yahoo and MSN... Barry: The biggest issue with Ask is its own legacy. For example, Ask a question and you get a response. The first thing Ask needs to confront, is to tackle that problem, to let people know what Ask does now. He describes how Google is often used as a verb and that is very big brand competition. We will compete directly and indirectly but right now we are saying "we are ready to compete." When Yahoo brought on the "other companies" they did billboards and so - but they didn't say, look at us and here we are.
Danny: Brings up the mission statements of Google and Yahoo. Does Ask need a catchy mission statement? Barry: "Be Evil", everyone laughed. There are very few companies that act in an evil way, like an evil emperor. Google is now in a real business. Now people are not going to like everything about Google. When you are in business, its hard not to be evil by everyone. Ask does not need a slogan, and we don't need a slogan. Use Tools - Feel Human is the Ask line but its not the claim line for the company.
Danny: There has been a lot of focus on China issues. What is going to happen in the future. Censorship? Barry: We do have an R&D office in China. He feels that this whole press thing is being "over media-ated". When you operate a business in China, you need to function on the basis of how you must, and follow their laws. "Can I stomach operating in a country..." It is not an important topic, unless you are perfectly OK with operating there. Politics, not business.
Danny: US Government asking search engines for data, but they didn't ask Ask. If they did, how would you respond? Barry: Ask would have resisted. They hold enormous amount of data on people's information at IAC. You have to be a guardian of information. Who is going to trust you? He always felt not placing an order online because of being worried about credit card fraud...people give credit cards to gas stations, etc...
Danny: You have so many sites with IAC. Does ShoeBuy.com get to be number one? Barry: IAC has an enormous amount of vertical data that they spent a huge amount of info. We will give them the information when its useful but never if its not relevant. But they won't rank ShoeBuy.com number one, simply because they own it.
Danny: Barry: Entering this world, and the essence of it, it is not passive, it is truly interactive. It is not only a different vocabulary, it is an other language for me to learn. Barry said, he will never be a technologist. He is often confused about talk. He understands enough to identify what is an idea. He got lucky that he had this revelation to him, about what is possible within a screen. He was so curious about it that he jumped into it. He never lost his curiosity.
Danny: Did you have an other WOW with Ask? Barry: He thought (1) you could compete, could they take out the expedia's of the world? As long as you have a brand, brand will survive. and then he thought (2) is there an opportunity? And they said, yea, we can build a search engine and we can compete. They looked around to what to buy and Ask was the best.
Danny: New brand and can you show it to us. Barry: Introduced Jim Lanzone to show it off.
Little technical glitch but we are now live.
Jim: They had the rebrand, no more Jeeves. Objectives: (1) Treat this as a way to show all the technology they have built and (2) make it easily accessible. On the right hand side they have the "toolbox" and you see the various tools to show how different ways to search. When they find out they can use a dictionary directly from a search engine, they love it and come back. He then performs an image search. You can also click and drag these items in the "toolbox" up and down. You can change the defaults to the homepage. You can open and close the toolbox. They launched encyclopedia search and desktop search for the Web (web based desktop search), so now you can search both ways, via desktop application or via Web browser. They also launched their new maps product, similar to other maps products with AJAX. They went deep on directions and building an itinerary. Drag and drop the destinations pins. They are using arial views, instead of satellite. They also have a walking map, not only driving directions. You can hit a play button to see you simulate the drive. Of course, Ask still has the Smart Answers, the zoom on the right side of the page, binoculars, etc. The best part is to bring all these tools to the front and this brings these tools as a "Speed Dial."
Barry Diller: I feel this competition is great. Ask is serious, IAC put up a lot of capital. They back supported the issues at Ask. They said, they don't expect great earnings from Ask that soon. They are investing in technology as it just starts out to begin. We are serious about it.
Danny: You spoke before about more government regulation. Do you feel we have enough voices in search? Barry: Obviously, no.
Danny: How do you deal with search on a day to day basis? Barry: Habit is a tough thing to change. Smoothing into Ask. Search will evolve, its not over night. Ask has a product that is part of that. If the idea is good, the world allows it to come into the DNA of the world. It feels more natural then hammering a nail into it. Those things break themselves down.
Danny: Convergence of search, mobile search, etc. You were not at CES. How do you see it going??? Barry: Search will be everywhere. It doesn't matter what the screen is. It is all going to converge in one way. The amount of rich media that is able to viewed. The issue is not distribution. All of those things will happen when the consumer products enable them.
SES NYC Tag: sesny2006