I’d rather be catching his presentation live from the Bellagio, though in Las Vegas, as IAC (NSDQ: IACI) CEO Barry Diller pointed out: “Having a meeting at 8 o’clock in the morning is like a crime on humanity.” Diller’s presentation at the Goldman Sachs Ninth Annual Internet Conference was his first conference appearance following the settlement with Liberty and the detailing of the spins. There wasn’t much talk on the nitty gritty or the how of the spins, but instead he talked about the why, which is “taming the best” that IAC has become: “We still were incredibly complicated to explain.” So with a slimmed down company, it’s time to start explaining. In addition to touting several of IAC’s specific sites and how interactive (as opposed to transactional) they all are — he predicted that the unit would generate 50 percent profit growth over the next year.
— Ask: Microsoft’s (NSDQ: MSFT) latest murmurs about paying searchers don’t impress them: “Ask tried those experiments a long time ago.” And the search business won’t be won by heavy marketing, as they’ve learned the lesson from their billboard and TV campaigns: “We found out how tough it is to change people’s habits once your competitor has become a verb and a noun and everything else. (note: ask is a verb, too.)
— Lexico acquisition: After mistakenly referring to it is Lexapro (he corrected himself quickly), the depression drug, Diller explained how the parent of Dictionary.com would complement the core Ask user, which is someone interested in having a question answered — a product of its legacy strategy.
— Vertical search: RushmoreDrive, the black-focused site is the first one, but Ask will be rolling out more vertically-oriented search sites. Green.com, a kid-safe search engine will be next, and we’ve heard there are plans for more built around ethnicities.
— International: Expect to see IAC build a bigger presence internationally, or at least try, following the spins. Diller:”These businesses were essentially America-centric… already plans are in works to do it (expand abroad); they’ll definitely be energized by the spinout.” On China: “Making big internet investments in China is a fools game… we’d rather go there and plant our flag and start from scratch”