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About.com Adds Q&A

Following in the footsteps of Ask Jeeves, About.com Inc. Thursday acquired a question-and-answer site offering information on hundreds of different topics.

About.com (BOUT) acquired ExpertCentral.com, which will continue to operate independently and contain links to various sections of About.com's network.

About.com is paying $30.7 million in stock for the site. The company will exchange 500,000 About.com 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.

About.com 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 ExpertCentral.com 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.



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