Jim Safka Steps Down As Ask’s CEO

imageJim Safka is stepping down as CEO of Ask.com, the WSJ reports, and we have confirmed. Safka took the reins last January, replacing Jim Lanzone right in the midst of parent company IAC’s massive restructuring.

In a letter to staff, Safka maintained that the decision was based on personal reasons:

“This choice was not made lightly … When my brother John passed away unexpectedly less than a month ago, I began re-evaluating my personal and professional priorities and decided it was the right time for me to make a change … And whatever I do next will be smaller and more local, enabling me to have a better personal balance.”

(Given Ask.com’s ongoing, uphill battle to claim more than a sliver of search market share, Safka’s 16-month stint as CEO was probably anything but balanced). There’s speculation that he’ll be heading up online textbook rental startup Chegg, per the Journal.

Scott Garell will assume Safka’s responsibilities — but as president of Ask Networks — not CEO. Garell, who joined IAC (NSDQ: IACI) in 2004, was promoted to president of Ask.com during last year’s management shakeup.

You can find full texts of memos from Safka, Garell and IAC Chairman and CEO Barry Diller, here.

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