Vishal Shah of Ask.com – Judging TechCrunch Disrupt, Where is Jeeves?
Ask.com is a search engine that changed in the last five years. While at TechCrunch Disrupt, Vishal Shah – Director of Engineering at Ask, and Judge of the Hackathon at TechCrunch Disrupt – took some time to talk with myself and Adria right before we saw all the great new programs the hackathon creators made.
Ask.com is a “Question and Answer” search engine. Need to know where the Empire state building is? Need to know what Chai Tea is? Ask.com will give you the answers to that, and more questions.
In the last couple years, they have come back to the Q and A search and focused more on community:
“The whole concept of search is overused nowadays. We do ‘search’, but we’ve refocused on Q and A. That is something we’ve been doing since the beginning. We started as Ask Jeeves – we know questions, we think we know that better than anyone else. That is what we focused ourselves on, how to best answer people’s questions.”
They started testing a new idea – their “Social Q and A”. Now, more than 60 million users use this engine to help other users in their queries. You want to know the price of a bottle of wine, you ask and other users will give you an answer.
Ask.com will have instant answers (capital of France, for example). However, when you get more specific questions, they will give you algorithmic responses, but if there isn’t one, the community will
We’ve had an iphone app for almost a year, we’ve seen great results – one million downloads in 9 months – four times more engagement in mobile devices. It’s something natural. Often times you have a question, or thinking of a question, you are not in front of your desktop.
The new Android application for Ask.com was recently released. The engagement numbers are a little early, but they have seen great response for the app.
They are also constantly investing in their application. Integrating new features and take advantage of the platform. Figuring out how people use their platform.
Finally, we ask the question – Where is Jeeves right now? We talked about his retirement and talk about an easter egg on Ask.com.