Ask Jeeves Buys Tukaroo

Putting the pedal to the metal, Ask Jeeves has acquired desktop search technology company Tukaroo Inc., adding desktop search to its offerings and making its second acquisition of the year.

Not satisfied with its $500 million acquisition of Interactive Search Holdings completed in May, the second-tier search engine has expanded its portfolio with the desktop search company. Continuing to put the hammer down, Jeeves also filed a universal shelf registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to sell as much as $400 million of its stock.

“We expect that Tukaroo’s desktop search and information management capabilities will enable Ask Jeeves to deliver a seamless, end-to-end search experience across the desktop and the Internet,” said Steve Berkowitz, CEO of Ask Jeeves Inc.

By embracing desktop search, Jeeves is following in the footsteps of Microsoft and (reportedly) Google. Microsoft plans to provide an improved search experience in its long-delayed next Windows version, code-named Longhorn. Also, according to May reports, Google has been working on a desktop search application for about a year. Offerings already available in the marketplace include Idealab-funded X1 Technologies’ X1 software, dtSearch and HotBot Desktop, a free solution. Obviously, the Macintosh and Windows operating systems both offer search capabilities.

Privately held, San Jose, Calif.-based Tukaroo was founded in 2003. The company makes desktop search and file management software that enables users to access and manage their information in real time.

Ask Jeeves indicated in April that it planned to put more of its revenue to work by increasing investment in its business over the next few quarters. The comments were made at the time Jeeves reported its strong financial performance for the first quarter of 2004.

“They’re taking advantage of the fact that Google is going public this year and valuations are a lot higher than they were in the past,” said Kevin Lee, CEO of search engine marketing firm Did-it.com. “This is a chance to make acquisitions and do secondary offerings to raise more capital.”

Lee said Tukaroo will prove to be a wise purchase “if its business can help them [Jeeves] generate more search inventory, more ad inventory.”

If Jeeves is able to raise additional capital, Lee said, “that’s great for them because they can take the up to $400 million in shares they sell and build a stronger business.”

Ask Jeeves has a wide array of search-related Web sites and portals. In addition to its Jeeves-centric holdings such as Ask Jeeves and Ask Jeeves for Kids, the company now owns popular sites and search services including iWon, Excite, My Way, My Search, My Web Search and MaxOnline thanks to its acquisition of Interactive Search Holdings. The company also has its own search technology, Teoma, and proprietary natural language processing technology.

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