RealTime IT News Adds Q&A

Following in the footsteps of Ask Jeeves, Inc. Thursday acquired a question-and-answer site offering information on hundreds of different topics. (BOUT) acquired, which will continue to operate independently and contain links to various sections of's network. is paying $30.7 million in stock for the site. The company will exchange 500,000 shares for all outstanding ExpertCentral shares.

ExpertCentral allows users to ask questions either publicly or confidentially on a variety of topics. Questions can also be posted to public bulletin boards that are accesssible to all visitors. In addition, ExpertCentral features a knowledge base listing all prevous questions and answers.

The site, which launched in October, allows visitors to rate the answers provided by experts. While some answers are provided free, a fee can be charged for those that require complex answers. Payments are taken via credit card. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Scott Kurnit said the acquisition will play a key role in the company's plans to expand its business-to-business offerings.

"Having as a resource will allows us to greatly expand our personalized question answering capabilities at each of our 700 sites while providing increased, highly-targeted inventory for our ad sales group," he said.

Earlier Thursday, Ask Jeeves debuted Personal Jeeves, a customized platform that provides targeted information and customized services to consumers based on their needs and interests.

Features include a daily answer, which provides customized national and world news, including breaking political, business and sports stories. Also available are personalized stock quotes, individual sports scores, local weather conditions and a daily horoscope.