Updated: IAC, DJ Shutting Down Personal Finance JV FiLife Following Dramatic Traffic Decline

Pulling The Plug Closeup

IAC (NSDQ: IACI) and Dow Jones (NYSE: NWS) are shutting down FiLife today, paidContent has learned and IAC has confirmed. We reported last month that the plug could be pulled but sources then insisted that all options were being explored. Today, the staff is learning those options have run out. Some assets will be absorbed by IAC and DJ but editorially FiLife will disappear. The closing affects 19 jobs; some staffers are likely to wind up at IAC and DJ.

IAC’s response: “We have decided to discontinue operations at FiLife.com and will incorporate some of the site’s assets and personal finance services into existing businesses within Dow Jones and IAC, and both companies are still working out these specifics.”

Update: The move comes scant months after FiLife head Ezra Kucharz left in January for CBS (NYSE: CBS) with praise from IAC and DJ for growing the site. They credited him publicly for turning around the site during his year-plus term as president and GM and building it to the #4 personal finance site with 4.4 million unique visitors in December. That growth evaporated almost immediately, dropping to 3.2 million in January and 3.08 million in February. It got worse. By this March, according to numbers provided by comScore (NSDQ: SCOR), FiLIfe.com was down to 322,000 — a nearly 90 percent decline in just one month.

Worldwide unique visitors:

U.S. unique visitors:

What happened? One persistent suggestion from anonymous tipsters, from people familiar with FiLife at various stages and from others building sites not competing with FiLife, is that the site was buying traffic to boost growth numbers and when it stopped, so did the growth. One source with considerable experience in building traffic and familiarity with FiLife pulled up Compete’s numbers and said: “That is not the way an organically growing web site acts, assuming these numbers are remotely close to being accurate.”

Compete’s actual numbers vary from comScore’s but the picture is the same:

A digital media exec pulled up Alexa.com to take a look and pointed to the relative lack of movement in pageviews per users during the traffic spike: “It

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