RealTime IT News

Ask Jeeves Goes to the Blogs

Moving into a developing and promising area, search engine Ask Jeeves has acquired Trustic Inc. and its popular Bloglines service for an undisclosed sum, the companies said.

Founded in 2003 as the blogging trend was gaining momentum, Bloglines lets users search, publish and share blogs and RSS feeds for free.

The site indexes 280 million live Web content elements and is available in English, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Portuguese and Spanish.

The acquisition was officially announced today, but the news appeared on various search-related blogs late last week, as if underlining the evolution of the medium.

"Bloglines is not only a market leader in feed aggregation and blog search, but it is truly one of the most useful and addictive services on the entire Web," Jim Lanzone, Ask Jeeves' senior vice president of search properties, said in a statement.

Oakland-based Ask Jeeves is looking for leverage against larger search players like Google and Yahoo . Last year Google bought Blogger.com to gain a foothold into the Weblog community.

Bloglines CEO Mark Fletcher, the former CEO of ONEList, which was acquired by Yahoo in 2000 and now operates as Yahoo Groups, will join Ask Jeeves as vice president and general manager of Bloglines. In a post on his personal blog, Fletcher said the deal gives Bloglines access to more resources.

"We'll be integrating Ask's killer Teoma search engine technology within Bloglines," Fletcher wrote. "This will vastly improve our blog search capabilities. We don't think that world-class blog search exists yet; with Teoma and Bloglines, that will happen."

Fletcher also said that Bloglines has had several acquisition offers, but the firm liked the fact that it could continue as an independent brand and unit of Ask Jeeves.

Kevin Lee, CEO of Did-It, a search marketing firm, said the Ask Jeeves purchase makes sense because it gives it technology and traffic.

"[Ask Jeeves] is buying eyeballs," Lee told internetnews.com. "Certainly, blogs are hot, and with self-publishing content you get members, for lack of a better term."

Lee said Ask Jeeves can put its search box onto Bloglines, giving blog readers the opportunity to search blogs or the Web. Bloglines users are also likely to be a loyal group, which would help lock in regular users of Ask Jeeves properties, Lee said.

The move is the most recent in an active sector. In related news, The New York Times reported today that Primedia is shopping its About.com site.

Final bids of between $350 million and $500 million are expected today, and Ask Jeeves is believed to be in the running, the newspaper reported. Google, AOL, Yahoo and the New York Times Co. are also said to be submitting offers.

An Ask Jeeves spokesman was not immediately available for comment on the About.com bid.