Ask CEO asks to leave

The search company says that Jim Safka decided to leave after the recent death of his brother.

Ask.com said on Tuesday that its chief executive, Jim Safka, is leaving the company after 18 months in the job.

"Jim has decided to move on from Ask.com, following the recent passing of his brother which has led him to re-evaluate his personal and professional priorities. We wish him the very best and thank him for his efforts at Ask.com," Ask spokeswoman Mary Osako said in a statement. "Ask will be led by Scott Garell, who has been promoted to President of Ask Networks, who has already been principally involved every day with the global business over the past 18 months as President of Ask.com."

In addition to Ask.com, the broader Ask Networks also covers the site's partner network and sponsored listings program as well as Dictionary.com.

Safka, a former Match.com CEO, took over as head of Ask in January 2008, after then-CEO Jim Lanzone departed as part of a shake-up at parent company InterActiveCorp.

"Jim has demonstrated tremendous leadership during his tenure at IAC, first at Match.com and most recently at Ask.com, where he helped the Ask Network become the 6th largest in the U.S. and created the foundation for a new growth strategy that is showing early positive traction," InterActiveCorp CEO Barry Diller said in an e-mail to the company's staff.

Safka's departure comes as Ask continues to badly trail its larger rivals in the search market. As of March, Ask had 2.1 percent of the U.S. search market, as compared to 10 percent for Microsoft, 15 percent for Yahoo and 64 percent for Google, according to Nielsen Online.

Garell, like Safka, joined Ask in January 2008. Before that, he served as CEO of IAC Consumer Applications & Portals. Before that he served as executive vice president of domestic sites and search for IAC. Prior to that, he worked at Computer Associates, Citysearch and Clorox.

Safka's departure was reported earlier on Tuesday by The Wall Street Journal.

About the author

    During her years at CNET News, Ina Fried has changed beats several times, changed genders once, and covered both of the Pirates of Silicon Valley. These days, most of her attention is focused on Microsoft. E-mail Ina.

     

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