Barry Diller, A Dollar, A Ten O'Clock Scholar - InformationWeek

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IoT
IoT
Infrastructure // PC & Servers
Commentary
11/7/2007
06:29 PM
Michael Singer
Michael Singer
Commentary
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Barry Diller, A Dollar, A Ten O'Clock Scholar

So media mogul Barry Diller is planning to split his IAC empire into five public companies, eh? But the conglomerate that includes Home Shopping Network, Ticketmaster, and search engine Ask.com is already successful as a collective. Why break up the band? What does Barry know that we don't?

So media mogul Barry Diller is planning to split his IAC empire into five public companies, eh? But the conglomerate that includes Home Shopping Network, Ticketmaster, and search engine Ask.com is already successful as a collective. Why break up the band? What does Barry know that we don't?On Monday, Diller briefed the press and analysts on his plans for IAC/InterActiveCorp. His mood was upbeat. It was obvious he had been thinking about it for some time, although he painted a very vague picture:

"We're up for anybody talking to us about anything," Diller said during a conference call to discuss plans to spin off four of IAC's biggest divisions and the HSN shopping network.

The Wall Street Journal notes that the breakup of IAC properties also relieves tension between Diller and longtime backer, John Malone. Malone, who runs Liberty Media, is likely to take HSN off of Diller's hands.

Here's the breakdown and some questions:

  • IAC -- This includes the Ask.com search engine and the social Web sites CitySearch, Match.com, and College Humor. Is social networking really that valuable?
  • Ticketmaster -- Lots of profit, sure, but lots of pressure from the music industry.
  • HSN -- The question remains: How much is Home Shopping Network to Malone?
  • LendingTree -- Will the national mortgage crisis consolidate its services industry?
  • Interval International -- What's next for vacation travel Web sites like Expedia and Hotels.com?

Diller is no stranger to re-inventing himself. His resume is one string of successes after another stretching from ABC and Fox. But since 2000, his focus has been in online properties.

So why break up the band? ComScore reported IAC sites are visited approximately 680 million times a month and that it's network of sites ranks 8th largest in the world. The collective also buys more online advertising in the U.S. than anyone else, according to Nielsen/NetRatings. Is there likelihood that each of these of these properties can make it on their own? In addition to acquiring sites, Diller has also spun off individual sites to their own IPOs such as Expedia. So he has a track record.

More likely, Diller is shaking the trees to make sure that there are no albatrosses and to capitalize on improved relations. In the light of Google's Android project, the search engine also announced a five-year deal with Diller that could put $3.5 billion in revenue in IAC's pocket.

Were Diller to keep IAC in tact, the bonus could be going straight to keeping some sites afloat long past their due. Separating the franchises certainly puts Diller at the head of the class.

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