IAC (NSDQ: IACI), in the process of splitting up into five companies, is making a major bet in the online health information sector, a new-ish area for the company: it is buying a major (though still minority) stake in HealthCentral Network, a network of consumer health information sites based in Arlington, VA, we have learned. Also investing in this round are previous investors Sequoia Capital, Carlyle Group and Polaris Venture Partners (Allen & Co was also a previous investor, and not sure if they’re in this new round). The total money being invested is in the $50 million range, our sources say.
Founded in the late 1990s as ChoiceMedia, the company was bought out by Polaris, Sequoia and Carlyle in 2005, and Christopher Schroeder, former CEO of Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive, took over as CEO. It changed its name to HealthCentral in 2006, and now has a network of about 30 owned sites on specific health topics: the main site is HealthCentral, and others include FoodFit.com, and more narrowly-focused vertical sites such as MyDiabetesCentral.com and MyDepressionConnection.com. It also owns the infamous DrKoop.com domain/site, which it bought in 2004, though C. Everett Koop is not associated with the site anymore. It is also starting a health-focused online ad network.
This is IAC’s second health-related investment: it recently invested in Medem, a San Francisco-based patient online health records services firm. In terms of integration with IAC, the new investment in HealthCentral will roll up into Ask.com, and will be part of the split company IAC. This also means IAC is now in competition with other online health info companies such as WebMD (NSDQ: WBMD), RevolutionHealth, iVillage Health/NBCU and About.com Health/NYT, among others.