LAST WEEK, I HAD THE chance to spend some time talking to Ask's new CEO, Jim Lanzone. The first thing that become very clear is that Lanzone is tired of his company's being compared to Google, MSN and Yahoo. I immediately slipped into the trap of asking how Ask intends to fight the big G and the two other contenders. It was obviously a question that he has heard all too often in the past. "Let's begin by resetting the framework for the question," Lanzone replied. "We don't want to climb Everest right now. We're not planning on knocking out Google. Our goal is to take our 20 million users, who are currently using us twice a month, and bump that up to four times a month. That doubles our market share," he said.
I've often thought that MSN should buy Ask. They are very good at certain things such as natural language queries. In fact, I think Ask does the best job at figuring out what a person is actually searching for.