Ask Jeeves hires sales chief

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.

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

media.



’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

sponsorship.



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

the way.



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.’



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