gives up on search president Doug Leeds announced yesterday that the company will no longer compete in the search market, leading to at least 130 job losses in the USA and China.

Despite initial successes, and huge brand recognition, quickly fell behind Google, with Microsoft's Bing offering pushing Ask's efforts further down the pecking order.

"As our loyal staff knows best, Ask has taken a lot of flak through the years, fairly and fairly, for not having a focused, cohesive strategy, for ping-ponging across different approaches and marketing tactics," he said. "The current team ended that. We know that receiving answers to questions is why users come to the site, and we are now serving them in everything we do."

Having launched as AskJeeves in 1996, prominently featuring the eponymous butler, the company ditched the home help 10 years later, only to bring him back to UK audiences soon afterwards. It remains to be seen if's move back towards an answers system will see everyone's favourite butler return to a worldwide audience.

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