Ask Jeeves boss recruited by Microsoft

According to today’s New York Times,

Microsoft has hired Steven Berkowitz, the chief executive of Ask Jeeves, to run its floundering Internet division, Microsoft said yesterday.

Mr. Berkowitz became president of Ask Jeeves in 2001 and chief executive in 2003. He helped transform the service, which was introduced to answer questions posed in English phrases, into a search engine to compete with Google. Mr. Berkowitz continued to run the company after it was acquired by IAC/InterActiveCorp last July.

Microsoft has been struggling to redefine its online strategy and build an advertising-based business to confront competition from Google, Yahoo and others. The company’s MSN service, which dates from 1994, has gone through a series of sharp strategy shifts as Microsoft has wrestled with whether it is a media company as well as a software vendor.

Most recently, the company decided to revive its effort to build advertising-based businesses as it sees Google give away free software, supported by advertising.

Despite a large investment to develop and promote its new search engine, Microsoft’s share of the search market in the United States has plummeted. In March, it had 13 percent of the search market, down from 16 percent a year earlier, according to comScore Networks. Ask Jeeves held its share constant at 6 percent over the same period.