Ask Jeeves President Quits

Ted Briscoe was named to the post in March.
Author:
Publish date:

Just two months after being promoted, the president and chief operating officer of the Web-based question-and-answer service

Ask Jeeves

(ASKJ)

is leaving to head up an Internet startup, the company announced Wednesday.

Ted Briscoe, who joined Ask Jeeves as chief marketing officer in January 1999 and became president in March, will become chief executive of

Play Stream Media Group

, a privately held Internet broadcaster.

Analysts don't expect the move to hinder Ask Jeeves' efforts to integrate

Direct Hit

, a search engine technology company it acquired in a $500 million deal in January.

"My read is that it is neither a positive nor a negative," said Ben Rose, an analyst at

Adams, Harkness & Hill

in Boston. "He was not really responsible for the success story of Ask Jeeves." Rose rates the company's stock a strong buy, and his firm has not done any underwriting for Ask Jeeves.

Shares of Ask Jeeves were trading down 1, or 5%, at 20 5/8, well below its all-time high of 190 1/2 reached after its initial public offering last year. (Ask Jeeves closed Wednesday regular trading down 1 5/8, or 8%, at 20.)

Heather Staples, an Ask Jeeves spokeswoman, said Briscoe was leaving the company because he "has a lot of personal ambition and this is definitely a good opportunity for him."

And Rose said, "I think it's a typical Silicon Valley thing. He was probably offered a lot of options."

Ask Jeeves, whose mascot is a butler, responds to questions over the Internet. To allow it to answer inquiries quicker, it is integrating the technology it acquired from Direct Hit, which uses spiders -- or bits of software that search the Web for data -- to augment the company's human-based answering service.