Communacopia: Barry Diller: Spin Not An Outcome, But A Beginning; No ‘Spinners Remorse’
Some rhetoric from IAC CEO Barry Diller, now in charge of a slimmed down New IAC (NSDQ: IACI). The result of the arduous spin is “not an outcome, it is a beginning.” A “fireside chat” with Diller at Goldman Sachs Communacopia marked his first conference appearance since the Old IAC split into five last month. Much of what he had to say echoed earlier comments, both from himself and other executives, like CFO Tom McInerney. Don’t look for any huge deals with the $1.3 billion in cash on its balance sheet—instead look to past deals, like Lexico, the dictionary.com parent, whose revenue per query has “jumped up a lot” since joining the network, and has lead to “500,000 new IAC queries” (not clear on whether that’s total, or per month), since joining up. And he insisted that throughout the spin process, his confidence that it was the right move only grew, without ever a glimmer of remorse (he says). -- Ask.com’s Future: Look for the company’s flagship search site to continue moving away from results that are “10 blue links” (a derisory term favored by every search engine not called Google), and instead more well-rounded, useful results. A refresh of the site will come shortly, and to get the word out, IAC will likely experiment with “some offline media tests.” But, said Diller: “We are not going to have the kind of retail campaign we had before.” So don’t look out for Ask.com billboards while driving down the highway. -- Social Media: Diller called the media’s fascination with social networking “flavor of the month"-ish, and said IAC has no interest in social networking qua social networking, but that where it made sense to add social and user-gen elements, the company would do so. He noted that other unnamed companies are “Imposing social networking where it has no relevance or reason for being.” He made a comparison (which he’s done before) between sites like Facebook and MySpace (which he basically likened to chat) to Princess Phones—a reference the questioning analyst didn’t seem to get. (I didn’t either; I had to look it up on Wikipedia). -- Deal activity: The best moment was when Diller was asked about the “quantum” of dealmaking activity IAC would be engaged in. Diller: “Did you say quantum?!” The questioner quickly then rephrased the question in normal English, asking about the quantity of deals the company would be making, to which Diller wouldn’t give a response—but suffice to say, there’s no plan to blow through the whole $1.3 billion in cash on acquisitions.