As reported Sunday, Ask will purchase the About Company from the New York Times, a top 20 US Internet property whose assets include 3 million handcrafted articles from nearly 1000 subject matter experts.
This is an incredibly positive move for both parties, and here’s why:
I’ll start with Ask. Since shifting away from algorithmic web search and re-focusing on Q&A back in the summer of 2010, we’ve learned a thing or two from our users. First, an increasing number of them are in “browse mode” when they come to Ask, looking to discover and explore information (for our mobile users, who cite Q&A browsing as a top reason for using Ask, this behavior is even more pervasive). In fact, the most satisfied Ask users say they want more than just “one right answer,” they want multiple perspectives combined with the ability to discover something new and unexpected.
As such, Ask has been moving toward a content-rich Q&A experience with the goal of building more engagement with our mix of people-powered and search-powered answers. We’ve also been heavily ramping content from carefully-vetted partners to ensure we have access to fresh, trusted answers in key verticals like food, health, travel and reference.
But About.com allows us to execute on our content vision at a whole new level. About.com is home to more than 900 topic sites, all created by guides who are true independent subject matter experts, passionate about what they cover. Ask.com is home to 100 million global users, asking millions of questions in hopes of finding great answers. The immediate synergies are obvious: Ask now has the ability to better satisfy our users with answers drawn from millions of handcrafted, quality articles published on About.com, while providing significant, additional traffic to About.com’s guide pages at the same time.
Matching millions of potential quality answers to user questions is where the synergies begin, not end. Ask can also make About.com’s awesome content much more discoverable through both extending our search expertise to the About.com site, and syndicating our recently acquired content discovery platform, nRelate, across About’s pages.
These are just some of the ways this acquisition represents a no-brainer for us, and a real opportunity for both parties. I can’t wait to dig in and, together with the combined teams, learn more about how About.com and Ask can tap each other’s strengths, learn from each other’s experiences, and deliver a better experience for all of our users.
Congrats to all of the teams who made this deal possible, and a hearty welcome to the About Group to the Ask.com family!
Doug Leeds, CEO