Online search engine Ask Jeeves is paying $343 million for a family of popular Web sites that includes Excite.com and iWon.com, bulking up the company as it vies to wrest market share away from industry leaders Google and Yahoo.
Emeryville-based Ask Jeeves, which announced the deal before the stock market opened Thursday, will double in size with the acquisition of Interactive Search Holdings, a privately held company in Irvington, N.Y. with about 200 employees and more than $100 million in annual revenue.
The Interactive Search operations will remain in New York after the takeover closes in the second quarter, with most of the workers, including company co-founders Bill Daugherty and Jonas Steinman, expected to be retained.
The sale price consists of $150 million in cash and 9.3 million shares of Ask Jeeves’ stock, which closed Wednesday at $20.71.
Launched in 1999, Interactive Search’s best-known properties are the sweepstakes site iWon, which gives away $10,000 per day to attract traffic, and Excite, which was bought for $10 million in 2001 when the site was auctioned off in bankruptcy court. The company’s other sites include Myway.com, which waged an anti-Yahoo marketing campaign in late 2002.
Interactive Search better known as The Excite Network ran the 12th busiest group of Web sites in January, attracting a total of 23.8 million unique visitors in January, according to comScore Media Metrix, a research firm. Ask Jeeves ranked as the 26th most popular destination with 15.6 million unique visitors.
Based on the combined audience of 39 million, Ask Jeeves’ collection of Web ”
It sure looks like the Search Engine game is becoming more fierce and definately interesting. Could the search engines have gone from a one horse race (Google) to a 2 horse race (with Yahoo) and now potentially a 3 horse race ?
I for one can’t wait and see.