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Ask Jeeves sees staff to the door

Search engine fires one in four employees

It doesn't sound like the Christmas party at web information access provider Ask Jeeves is going to be very merry.

The California-based company announced on yesterday that in order to restructure itself into two divisions, it is laying off 25 percent of its employees.

About 180 full-time employees have lost their jobs in the hopes that by creating the separate companies, Business Solutions and Web Properties, Ask Jeeves will be able to save approximately £31.01 million in 2001 and grow 30 percent per year thereafter, the company said in a statement.

The move comes a week after the company announced the resignation of CEO Rob Wrubel, in light of its warning that fourth-quarter losses were going to be much higher than analyst expectations. Last week Ask Jeeves warned of a £12.41 million loss.

The company expects to reach profitability in the fourth quarter of 2001, with the Business Solutions side garnering revenue from licensing its Ask Jeeves technology and Targeting Solutions focusing on Ask.com, DirectHit.com and AJKids.com.

In a general slow-down for the dotcom economy, it has been a particularly difficult quarter for employees working at search engine companies. In September, Web portal and search engine, AltaVista also cut its staff by 25 percent which resulted in the loss of work for 225 people.


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