It's Official: Ask Jeeves Acquires Bloglines

Today, Ask Jeeves is announcing that they've acquired Bloglines, a well-known, critically acclaimed, and free web-based RSS aggregation tool for an undisclosed sum of money. The move confirms rumors that have been around since Saturday.

Jim Lanzone, senior vp of search properties at AJ has been a Bloglines user since its early days and thought the service would would fit well with what Ask Jeeves already provides.

"This acquisition is more of an investment to allow Bloglines to achieve their roadmap more quickly," Lanzone said.

According to Bloglines founder Mark Fletcher, the deal has been in the works since last September.

At the present time, Ask Jeeves has no plans to change anything about what Bloglines offers. It will still be available at Bloglines.com and will remain free. While many know and use Bloglines as an RSS aggregation service, it offers a wide array of tools including:

+ A weblog and RSS search engine that Ask Jeeves hopes to turn into a "world class" resource using their Teoma technology.
+ A weblog publishing platform including an option to quickly clip and annotate items from weblogs and feeds. Blogs are hosted on the Bloglines server.
+ A directory of RSS feeds.
+ An option to access your email discussion lists using the Bloglines aggregator while simultaneously reducing spam to your primary email account.
+ User Interfaces in six languages.

The LawLibTech blog offers an excellent Bloglines tutorial.

Today's acquisition also fits well with Ask Jeeves recently discussed mobile search plans. Bloglines works with WAP enabled devices. In fact, this is the way I frequently access the service.

The acquisition should could also help with Ask Jeeves getting some attention and "cred" in the blogging, RSS, and "early adopter" communities where Bloglines has a very large and loyal user base.

Bloglines founder Mark Fletcher began the service in June 2003. He sold another online service he started, eGroups, to Yahoo in September 2000.

The acquisition is another step toward Ask Jeeves rebuilding a great brand in search it originally had but which faltered between around 1999-2002.

Not The Same Old Butler
In the past two years, Ask Jeeves has moved from a lackluster web search provider to a well-rounded search service that I not only use but have zero problems recommending to others.

In my view, the turnaround began with AJ's purchase of Teoma in September 2001 and ending the idea of using humans to pre-suppose thousands of question and answer sets.

In 2003, Ask was one of the first large web search providers to jump on what is now a growing trend of providing direct answers on search results pages.

2004 was a busy year for The Butler. Not only did he trim down and get a makeover, but Ask Jeeves:

+ Launched a local search product (using data provided via a
partnership with CitySearch)
+ Introduced, My Jeeves, a personal search product
+ Continued developing and releasing new "Smart Answer" options including Famous People Search
+ Debuted a desktop search product

Moving forward, I believe one of the biggest challenges Jeeves faces is their name and their past. While many people know that Ask Jeeves is a search tool, it's often associated with the poor service that Jeeves previously provided. Acquisitions of a high quality service like Bloglines, should help the company get many more people to take a look at the work that they've been doing for the past four years.

Postscript: Welcome, Bloglines! from the Ask Jeeves blog provides the tale of the purchase from Ask Jeeves vice president Jim Lanzone, along with how Ask hopes to build with Bloglines to create a great blog search engine. Bloglines also has a FAQ and information on the purchase here: Letter to Bloglines Subscribers