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Ask Jeeves Buys Online Help Firm

In a move to expand its question answering services, natural question search engine Ask Jeeves, Inc. Monday purchased Net Effect Systems Inc., a provider of Web-based live help services, in a stock deal worth approximately $280 million.

Under the agreement, 1.835 million unregistered shares of Ask Jeeves' (ASKJ) common stock will be exchanged for all outstanding shares, warrants and vested options of Net Effect. The acquisition is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 1999.

Net Effect offers scalable, Web-based live help services to the e-commerce market. With its purchase, Ask Jeeves customers will be able to question live agents and experts in real time through text inquiries. It adds to the company's already popular natural question search engine, and significantly enhances Ask Jeeves' corporate services, said Rob Wrubel, president and CEO of Ask Jeeves.

"The ability to offer live interaction with a human being at the point when it is most important to e-commerce and overall customer satisfaction presents a compelling proposition for e-businesses," he said. "With the addition of real-time live help we believe the Ask Jeeves Corporate Service will become even more interesting for companies looking to increase conversion rates, reduce support costs and improve the overall customer experience online."

Ask Jeeves Corporate Service will add a live help feature where customers can ask queries online, ranging from general questions about a company to specific pre-sales and support questions about a product or service. The enhancement is designed to provide e-businesses with an integrated tool designed to efficiently answer customer queries online for e-commerce and e-service.



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