“It’s OK not to be No. 1” Jim Lanzone, CEO, Ask.com

"It’s OK not to be No. 1" — Jim Lanzone, CEO, Ask.com

 At General Electric (GE), Jack Welch was famous for insisting that the company compete only in businesses where it could be one of the top two players. Ask.com CEO Jim Lanzone doesn’t buy the Welch rule — even though Welch serves on his board. "You can be the fourth-ranked search engine, like we are, and still be doing very, very well," says Lanzone, whose company trails Google (GOOG), Yahoo (YHOO), and MSN (MSFT).

Founded in 1996 as Ask Jeeves, Lanzone’s site struggled to find a following in a crowded field of look-alike search engines. Then in 2005 the company was bought by Barry Diller’s IAC/ InterActiveCorp (IACI), which began investing heavily in the site. Lanzone’s guiding principle: Stay focused on improving search results, rather than on distractions like e-mail or blog services.

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