IAC made an interesting move today, replacing one of the head figures responsible for taking Ask.com out of the search spammy shadow of Jeeves, and transforming it into the incredible search engine it has become today, announcing that Jim Safka will takeover as CEO of Ask.com.
Lanzone, a search guy, is being replaced by Safka, an internal IAC guy, who served as CEO of Match.com from 2004 to 2006 and CEO of Primal Ventures, the venture incubating branch of IAC.
Ask.com says that Jim Lanzone will leave his current position as CEO of Ask.com to serve as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Venture Capital firm, Redpoint Ventures. Mr. Lanzone will work closely with Mr. Safka during the transition and will remain in an advisory role at Ask.com over the next few months.
From the press release :
“Jim Lanzone was the principal executive responsible for Ask.com’s turnaround over the last two years. His passion for innovation and his every day dedication to the business and its people have been everything anyone could ask for,” said Mr. Diller. “He is a superb executive and leader and I’m hopeful we can be associated in the future.”
Mr. Lanzone joined Ask.com in 2001 as Vice President of Product Management. Previously, he co-founded eTour, an early provider of information retrieval and cost-per-lead services on the Web, and served as President until it was acquired by Ask.com in May 2001. Earlier, Mr. Lanzone worked in product marketing for KnowX.com, a division of the Thomson Corporation and one of the Internet’s leading providers of public record search. Mr. Lanzone received his BA from U.C.L.A. and JD/MBA from Emory University.
I also didn’t know this until today but Lanzone used to be the CEO of eTour before it was acquired by Ask Jeeves. During the pre-Google days of the Internet, eTour was a system similar to StumbleUpon, without the social element (more on the old eTour from this 1999 Forbes article. Wow, was that almost a decade ago?). By choosing categories and hitting a surf button, eTour would navigate the web for its users taking them to random (and paid for) sites of interest.
You’d have to think that the eTour concept is dear to Lanzone, and given the success of StumbleUpon which is built upon the original eTour model, perhaps something similar might be in the works.