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Ask.com CEO Answers Microsoft Job Call

David A. Utter
Staff Writer
Published: 2006-04-22

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Steve Berkowitz, CEO of IAC/InterActiveCorp's Ask.com search engine, will leave the company to take over MSN.

It looks like David Cole's sabbatical just became permanent. The Wall Street Journal reported Steve Berkowitz, the CEO of Ask.com, will leave that company to try and right the good ship MSN as its vice president.

Kevin Johnson, co-President of Microsoft's Platforms & Services Division, disclosed the hiring to staffers in an email distributed on Friday (and apparently forwarded along to WSJ). Johnson, Berkowitz's new boss, expects his new hire to bring a "blend of start-up and high growth business experiences" and "deep functional knowledge of the search" to MSN

Although Microsoft's otherwise efficient PR machine had not yet released a statement about the hiring, Berkowitz's erstwhile employer did confirm it with WSJ. Berkowitz starts his new job May 8th, right after Kentucky Derby weekend.

From WSJ: IAC confirmed Berkowitz's departure and said that its president and chief operating officer Doug Lebda will oversee the business until a successor is chosen.

"The different lines of the Ask business, and most important, Ask.com, all have strong leadership and we don't think we'll miss a beat," said an IAC spokesperson.

MSN has suffered from a perception problem since the rapid ramp-up of Windows Live and its assorted services. Those received a recent boost at WebmasterWorld's PubCon Boston, where the Live team demonstrated their product's capabilities to attendees. It has been thought that MSN could be absorbed or superceded eventually by the Windows Live brand.

However, MSN does enjoy significant web traffic and offers a variety of topical content like news, sports, and entertainment. MSN has the adCenter service in its division, and Microsoft expects that advertising platform to help it compete with Google and Yahoo after it formally launches in the US in July.

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About the Author:
David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

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