Friday afternoon I reported at Search Engine Land on a Silicon Valley Insider report that IAC was going to force Ask.com to drop Teoma and the Teoma team and syndicate Google's search service. They would either sell of Teoma or drop the whole thing in favor for Google's search service.
The tip came from a solid source, said Silicon Valley Insider. However, Reuters said this is not the case and they heard otherwise. I personally sent in a request with Ask.com's PR team and have heard nothing back since Friday - is it too much to decline this is happening?
In any event, I feel long time supports of Ask.com are now losing patience. Not on a financial level, like Diller and company are but on a social level. The little engine that could seems to not be trying anymore. By adding more ads above the organic results, it seems like Ask.com is going back to the Jeeves days.
Glad I sold my IACI stock last month.
I've always had a great affection for Ask/Teoma for its technical competence. Unfortunately they have not been the focus of the accountant-based IAC money machine. So it's not surprising to see this happening. If only the money-making machine worked as well as the Ask/Teoma engine.
It just makes me feel that the grassroot'ers, us, who have been supporting Ask.com through thick and thin are now giving up. Do I blame anyone? No. Diller removed the soul of Ask.com a couple months back and where does that leave Ask? I always thought Diller came in to invest for several years, understanding it would not be cheap. But I guess the pressure got to him and he needs to make changes now, even though Diller said himself, and I quote our SES Keynote coverage:
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.
Will Ask.com stop focusing on search and just became a syndication service. I still hope not, but I hope less these days.
Postscript: Ask.com got back to me on Monday saying these rumors are false. They said that the "bottom line" is that the rumors are "just flat-out not true." Adding that "our Teoma technology will continue to power search engine results on Ask.com. That's really all there is to it."
Personally, I still think there is something to the rumors.