Leslie Cafferty, a spokeswoman for Ask's owner IAC, said Wednesday that Ask, which has struggled to carve out a significant share of the Web search market, is laying off employees at facilities in New Jersey and Hangzhou, China.
Cafferty said the move was part of a strategic shift by Ask to focus on its question-and-answer service rather than traditional search, which is dominated by Google with a more than 66 per cent share of the US search market.
Ask, previously known as Ask Jeeves, accounted for 3.7 per cent of the US search market in September, according to figures from online tracking firm comScore.
Cafferty said the question-and-answer service is "an important segment of the Web for Ask" and it is the number one site in the sector.
Ask released a beta, or test, version of its question-and-answer service in July. It routes questions submitted to the search engine to other Ask users to answer based on their interests and expertise.
IAC chief executive Barry Diller said in September that he does not expect Ask, which IAC bought for $1.85 billion five years ago, to ever be more than a "niche" service.