Ask Jeeves, which launched in the UK this month and has attracted
more than 45 million page impressions, has hired former Excite director
Khalil Ibrahimi to head its sales operation.
Ibrahimi, who was sales director at Excite and takes the same title at
Ask Jeeves, claimed he is building the best sales team in online
’Given that convergence is coming and that we have Granada and Carlton
as partners, it seems logical to look at people from different
backgrounds as we try to build the team,’ said Ibrahimi.
Nevertheless, his first port of call was his old company Excite, from
which he recruited agency account manager Nigel Gilbert. He will have a
similar role at Ask Jeeves.
He has also hired Darren Devitt, who handled IT sales at The Guardian,
in an account management role. Before The Guardian, Devitt worked at VNU
and Gruner & Jahr.
Juliet Sherwood has joined the company from Mirror Group as head of
She will lead a team that will include another recruit, Bree Stamp, who
was hired from The Media Exchange.
Ibrahimi said he was in talks with two further sales people, one in TV
and one in radio, but said he would welcome further applications from
senior people in either of those disciplines.
He is convinced that Ask Jeeves has one of the strongest sales stories
anywhere. ’Portals like Excite still have a very strong role, but they
effectively aggregate a lot of content. We want to have zero content and
just use our natural language question-and-answer system to point people
to the best sites.
’We can sell ads around a question as specific as ’Where should I go to
buy CDs online?’ There is very little wastage.’
AskJeeves.co.uk has been fully operational for the last month, and
Ibrahimi has already signed one major sponsorship package - a
’six-figure deal’ with Virgin. He said that several similar deals are on
Andy Hart, Ask Jeeves chief executive in the UK, said he was confident
that Ask Jeeves had already made it into the top ten most visited sites
in the country. ’This has got be the most successful launch since
Freeserve,’ he claimed. ’Maybe more.’