Ask Jeeves Ventures To UK

Ask Jeeves (Nasdaq: ASKJ) — the American question-and-answer-based search engine with the distinctly English butler — announced today that it has formed an international subsidiary and has signed a joint venture deal with two British television companies to provide its service in the UK.

The Emeryville, California-based company said that Carlton Communications Plc and Granada Media Group have agreed to provide $62.5 million (US$) in cash and advertising to launch the Ask Jeeves UK service by the beginning of next year. The British companies will take a 50 percent stake in the venture, with Ask Jeeves’ new international subsidiary assuming the remaining half.

Relevant Service

Ask Jeeves said that it currently attracts some 650,000 UK visitors a month and expects that the new country-specific site will draw an even larger audience. Carlton and Granada will make the service available on their own Web sites as well.

“We want Ask Jeeves to be embraced in the UK with the same level of user satisfaction as ask.com in the United States,” said George Lichter, the president of Ask Jeeves International. “We believe that partnering with Carlton and Granada will allow us to leverage their marketing savvy and intimate knowledge of the country’s consumers to deliver a highly relevant service.”

The Butler Knows Best

Ask Jeeves has broadened its public awareness in the U.S. in the last few months with a PR and advertising campaign and selected exposure in events like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in New York City.

The results have been effective. The company’s extensive database provided answers to 134 million consumer questions in the third quarter. Its corporate division provided answers to an additional 2.5 million questions posed to clients like Microsoft, E*TRADE, Hewlett-Packard, American Express and others.

Ask Jeeves went public in July at $14, and raised over $40 million. Its share price has shot up to nearly $120, as it posted third quarter revenues of $6.5 million and a net loss before the amortization of deferred stock compensation of $8.7 million.

The company clearly intends to bring its service to other lands, with its snappy little English butler leading the way. CEO Rob Wrubel said that Ask Jeeves will look to sign joint ventures with “strategic partners that provide access to mass audiences, powerful knowledge of a country’s consumers and a keen understanding of the rapidly developing Internet marketplace.”

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