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Ask Jeeves Wraps Its Arms Around Octopus

By Michael Singer     Feedback

The question-answer search engine is on a buying binge as the company acquires Steve Douty's CRM startup for its Jeeves Solutions division.

A week after question and answer search engine Ask Jeeves finished embedding the assets of Teoma, the company says it has acquired the technology of privately owned Octopus for an undisclosed amount.

Emeryville, Calif.-based Jeeves Monday says it has also hired the majority of the engineering team that built its software. The company says it plans on using Octopus' customer relation technology for its Jeeves Solutions' JeevesOne platform.

"With Octopus, we've acquired world-class technology. Our challenge now is to integrate and leverage this technology to create a more powerful product in JeevesOne," says Ask Jeeves CEO Skip Battle. "As a company, we have shown that we can integrate new technology to enhance our products. Our integration of Teoma technology on Ask.com is a great example of this. I expect the same level of efficiency and results from our integration of Octopus technology with JeevesOne."

Palo Alto, Calif.-based Octopus was the brainchild of CEO Steve Douty. The company made headway early with the addition of powerful partners such as IBM and BEA. Marc Andreessen, co-founder of both Netscape and Loudcloud, joined Octopus as a board member early in its career.

But Octopus has barely uttered a word since August. At the time, the company had several content deals under its belt for its Meta Applications program with partners like Broadband Sports, CNET Networks, Inc., DMusic Network, E! Online, GameSpy Industries, Hollywood Stock Exchange and MP3.com.

Now, Ask Jeeves will look to boost its JeevesOne business technology to kindle similar relationships.

"The launch of JeevesOne as a fully productized solution has presented us with new opportunities to go inside the enterprise and enhance companies' existing technology investments," says Jeeves Solutions president Claudio Pinkus. "With the assets and team we acquired from Octopus, we can give companies the tools they need to harvest the business value locked in the components of extended enterprise systems. This makes JeevesOne a highly competitive and more complete solution for delivering Connected Self-Service."

Pinkus says Octopus technology will allow JeevesOne to support emerging industry standards, including SOAP, UDDI and WSDL. Octopus's application server support will enable JeevesOne to support leading vendors including IBM and BEA. In addition, Octopus's enterprise application integration capabilities support many middleware solutions including Mercator, SeeBeyond, TIBCO Software, Vitria and webMethods.

For example, when end users ask questions such as "Do you have 100 2X4's in stock in your Oakland store?" or make requests such as "Please transfer $100 from my checking into my savings account" companies can direct them to answers or enable their requests without engaging in a person-to-person dialog.

This article was originally published on January 14, 2002
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