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Friday, May 16, 2008

Ask.com to Acquire Lexico, Owner of Dictionary.com, Thesaurus.com, and Reference.com

image Ask.com, a leading search engine and wholly-owned business of IAC, yesterday announced an agreement to acquire Lexico Publishing Group LLC - the owner of Dictionary.com, Thesaurus.com, and Reference.com, in an all-cash transaction. More than half a billion monthly worldwide searches consist of dictionary, thesaurus, and encyclopedia queries, according to comScore.

The Lexico acquisition will grow the Ask Network user base to more than 145 million unduplicated monthly unique users (UUs) worldwide, an increase of 11%, according to March 2008 comScore data. This would rank the Ask Network as the 9th largest Web property in the world -- ahead of Apple Inc. and Facebook -- in monthly worldwide UUs (comScore World Metrix, March 2008). Ask.com and Lexico's demographics are nearly identical, creating strong potential for cycling traffic between both companies' user bases.

"Lexico is a lean and fast-growing business with rapid top- and bottom-line growth, and is a natural addition for Ask.com," said Jim Safka, CEO of Ask.com. "More than 30 percent of all searches conducted on Ask.com are in the reference category. In fact, 'dictionary' was the second-most searched term on Ask.com in 2007. At the same time, Lexico's consumers frequently seek out a search engine immediately before and after using one of Lexico's sites. This acquisition expands Ask.com's reach and aligns perfectly with our customers' needs."

Lexico's key strengths include:

  • 15.6 M monthly UUs, growing 29% year-over-year (comScore, March 2008)
  • Lexico sites grew three times faster than the global search market, which grew 9.5% year-over-year (comScore, March 2008)
  • Profitable, high double-digit growth for the past two years
  • 88% of traffic consists of users who directly type Lexico sites' URLs into their browsers, demonstrating brand strength and minimal reliance on intermediary sites
"I can't imagine a better home for Lexico sites than Ask.com, given its leadership in search technology and product innovation," said Brian Kariger, CEO and Co-Founder of Lexico. "This integration will give the Lexico sites a better consumer experience and even more useful for finding answers."

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The transaction remains subject to customary closing conditions. 

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