Ask Jeeves Cuts First-Quarter Loss, Announces Layoffs

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Ask Jeeves Inc. shaved its first-quarter net loss to $39 million, or $1.09 per share, from a loss of $47.2 million, or $1.48 per share, a year ago, the Emeryville, CA-based search engine technology provider said yesterday.


The company also announced cost-cutting measures, including laying off 75 employees, or 15 percent of its 550-person work force. Ask Jeeves eliminated 180 positions in December. Although the company expects to record a one-time charge of $2 million in the second quarter as a result of the layoffs, it ultimately expects the cuts to save $50 million for the year.


"The majority of eliminated positions are a result of the continuing improvements in the automation of our tools and technology," said Skip Battle, Ask Jeeves' CEO.


The company said its first-quarter revenue was $19.1 million, up from $17.8 million in first quarter 2000. Revenue from the company's Web Properties division, which includes its search engine technology, fell to $9 million from $12.3 million a year ago. Business Solutions revenue nearly doubled in the first quarter to $10 million, from $5.4 million a year earlier.


Ask Jeeves forecasts revenue of $17 million in the second quarter, evenly split between its Web Properties and Business Solutions divisions.


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