Ask Jeeves to Acquire Direct Hit

LONDON (01/25/2000) - Ask Jeeves Inc., the question-and-answer format search engine, has entered into an agreement to buy Direct Hit Technologies Inc. in a stock swap deal worth US$507 million, the company announced today.

The value of the deal is based on the current stock price for Ask Jeeves, which closed at $99 yesterday on the Nasdaq stock market.

Under the terms of the agreement, the Emeryville, California-based Ask Jeeves would swap 5.12 million shares for all outstanding stock, warrants and options of Direct Hit, the company said in a statement.

Direct Hit, which makes the Direct Hit Popularity Engine, would in turn own about 12 percent of Ask Jeeves, the company said.

The Direct Hit technology can analyze which Internet sites are most visited by users and for how long by tracking the keyword searches of individual users.

The results collected from the anonymous users are tracked and ranked by popularity. The Web portal HotBot has been using the Direct Hit technology since last February. [See "HotBot in Deal for Improved Search Technology," Feb.

19, 99.]

Direct Hit also licences its popularity-based search technology to AT&T Corp., WorldNet, About.com, Go2Net, InfoSpace.com and ZDNet, the company said.

Ask Jeeves expects the improved search technology and expanded customer base from Direct Hit would double its customer base. From there, Ask Jeeves would pursue new B2B (business-to-business) and B2C (business-to-consumer) e-commerce and e-marketing opportunities, the company said.

Ask Jeeves, headquartered in Emeryville, California, can be contacted at +1-510-985-7400, or http://www.ask.com/. Direct Hit, in Natick, Massachusetts, can be reached at +1-508-653-5800 or at http://www.directhit.com/.

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