Barry Diller is getting close to waving his white flag in the search wars.
During IAC’s quarterly earnings conference call, the top dog made it quite clear that Ask.com may be on the chopping block:
"We’ve been asked a lot whether we’re open to consolidating transactions in the area of search. The answer is yes," Diller said. "And, it is unlikely that we would be the consolidator."
While Diller cautioned "you cannot really make any absolutes" about deals, he acknowledged that Ask.com faced a challenging environment in a search business.
He may as well have hung up a "For Sale" sign on the Ask.com homepage!
You can’t really blame him. After many attempts to promote and revamp Ask.com, the search engine holds a tiny 4% market share and it’s only chance of moving from the #4 to #3 spot will be when Yahoo hands over search to Microsoft.
I fully expect some Ask.com spokesperson to email me with a laundry list of Ask’s accomplishments–I can hear them saying "4% is really quite impressive"–but really, stick a fork in Ask.com. It’s done.