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Today marks the end of as a search engine; the once-mighty search giant will lay off the vast majority of its engineers and concede its small piece of the search market to Google and Microsoft., formerly known as Ask Jeeves, was once one of the world’s most recognizable search engines. It launched in 1996 and quickly grew in popularity with its focus on natural language queries in addition to keyword search. At its peak, took care of 2 million queries per day. Its mascot, Jeeves the butler, was well known by millions of people.

In 1999, the company held an IPO and everything looked peachy (as most things did during the Dot Com Bubble). You probably know the rest of the story though; started to bleed money and quickly lost relevance in the face of a more agile competitor: Google. Its market share dwindled and its technology stagnated until it was eventually acquired by Internet conglomerate InterActiveCorp for $1.85 billion in 2005.

Five years later, IAC hasn’t found a way to turn the search engine into a contender, despite its best efforts. According to Bloomberg, IAC will cut 130 engineering jobs in New Jersey and China, cease development of its algorithmic search technology, and refocus its efforts on the Q&A service it launched this summer.

What is the fate of’s search engine, though? President Doug Leeds says that it will deliver search results from one of its competitors, not unlike the Microsoft-Yahoo search deal signed last year. IAC already has an existing deal with Google, but Microsoft has been agressive with finding ways to expand Bing’s market share.

From Jeeves to Google

The IAC-owned website is still one of the web’s top destinations and its search revenue has grown in the last year (up 20% to $205 million), but that’s mostly due to its toolbar business. In the heavily competitive market of search, didn’t stand a chance against competitors that are constantly launching new features. and Ask Jeeves represent the spirit of the Web 1.0 era; with a good idea and a smart team, you could launch your idea and spread it across the world (and raise excessive amounts of funding in the process). Despite its decline since the tech bubble burst, it has fared much better than many of its other compadres (think It’s a testament to the fact that millions of people still rely on as their portal to the rest of the web.

While Google’s approach to search (speed and simplicity) won out, today still marks the end of the search engine. It’s truly Google and Microsoft’s market now.

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