IAC Splitting; HSN, Ticketmaster, LendingTree Spun Off

InterActiveCorp (IAC) has just announced that it will divide up the media conglomerate into five businesses.

Reuters reports IAC will keep Ask.com, Match.com, Evite, Citysearch, and Excite, while spinning off its HSN home shopping network, Interval time-share business, Ticketmaster ticket service, and its mortgage referral business LendingTree.

IAC’s Barry Diller said, "We’ve been a complex enterprise almost from the very beginning 12 years ago, with hundreds of transactions over those years. And while we’ve created a lot of value, I’ve always believed our complexity and many mouthfuls of sentences to explain who we are and what our strategy is have hampered clarity and understanding with all our constituencies, particularly investors."

Sure, it makes sense to spin-off those units that don’t gel together, but it seems that IAC will retain a mishmash of companies: search, dating, invites, local. Not a whole lot of synergy there.

No, wait! I get it….

  • Find a date on Match.com
  • Check they’re not a criminal using Ask.com
  • Find a restaurant for that first date using Citysearch
  • Invite a few friends using Evite–in case he is a psycho
  • Over dinner, reminisce about the days when people actually used Excite.

Makes perfect sense. ;-)

  • Jordan McCollum

    On the other hand, it does make perfect sense: get rid of the struggling companies.

  • http://www.marketingpilgrim.com Andy Beal

    @Jordan – should there be a wink at the end of your comment? Because, it looks like they’re spinning off the strongest companies and keeping together those that couldn’t make it on their own.

  • http://dmehus.wordpress.com/ Doug Mehus

    I have to agree with Andy. If you look at the companies they’re spinning off, with the exception of LendingTree, they’re all the profitable ones with strong cash flow. Sure, within the remaining IAC (and hopefully they’ll simply call it IAC, Inc. instead of the cumbersome IAC/InterActiveCorp), there are profitable companies like Ask.com and Match.com but are they enough to still shield the losses of some of the other companies in the mix? I’m not so sure. Maybe that’s the plan, though, so they can really put the unprofitable, declining businesses under the public microscope and create a “mini-backlash” from shareholders that forces them to begin shutting down some services. Also, why is Entertainment Publications staying with IAC? I would’ve thought they’d go with Ticketmaster – or possibly their own company.

    I have to admit though, I never predicted *another* spin-off. I thought splitting IAC and Expedia was a big enough deal. I never predicted they’d have enough to play with to make another new spin-off, let alone four spin-offs! It’ll be interesting to see how they’re all capitalized and how many outstanding shares will be in each company. Which company will have the most debt? Will any of them be debt-free?

    I still have a big beef with IAC though. Why won’t they redesign Excite? Surely they don’t want to see its users decline to almost nothing because with a 7-year old design and pop-up/pop-under ads, it’s heading that way. As well, their webmail facilities need a massive overhaul and a storage upgrade (125 MB doesn’t cut it in today’s market). Did you see the news that they’ve sold their Excite Europe assets to GoAdvertising Ltd. for less than half of what they paid for the assets when they bought them from Tiscali several years ago? (My blog was the blog that broke the story of the Excite Europe sale to IAC by Tiscali to TechCrunch and it’s the only “claim to fame” I can recall.) GoAdv, as they call themselves, said they plan to double Excite Europe’s traffic. They only paid something like $3 million Euros, which is what… $6 million U.S. dollars?

    You know, with Excite.com, it’s ironic. For years, Barry Diller coveted a Web portal that would unite all of his disparate websites. (In fact, I was one of the guys rooting for them to name the name of Ask Jeeves Inc. to Excite Inc. and focus the company around that.) He’s got that portal with a rich history and a powerful brand. If only he’d revamp it, buy out InfoSpace’s right to power the Excite.com search box and replace them with Ask.com, he’d do all right. Sure, portals are suffering but there will also be a core offering of users and, furthermore, there could be somewhat of a renaissance in the event of another dot-com meltdown when people are forced to move their free e-mail accounts back to old stand-bys as startups begin dropping like flies.

    My $1 CDN (or $1.07 USD – I love saying that!)

    Cheers,
    Doug

  • http://www.marketingpilgrim.com Andy Beal

    Thanks for your insight Doug. I agree that Excite is in desperate need of a redesign.

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