Barry Diller bought Ask.com five years ago for $1.85 billion. Today he was asked if the company would have more value if it was spun off outside the IAC network. “Ask has no value inside of IAC,” Diller told Tech Crunch. “So why would it add value as a standalone site” Ouch.
It’s one thing to be glib about a property that has clearly fallen behind the competition. But Diller seems to have little concept of what the his site is. “I don’t think Ask.com is going to gain search share; everyone copied us,” he said. So much so that Ask.com isn’t primarily an algorithmic search engine, like Google or Bing, anymore. It’s become a database of answers for “how to” questions, curated by real humans.
Back in July IAC’s stock jumped 3.5% when it was reported that Ask.com had performed better than expected. The company’s revenue grew 19%, primarily in search advertising, the sweet spot for Ask.com.
When Diller bought the site back in 2005 it was known as Ask Jeeves. Perhaps he’s still nursing a grudge about the fact that a real butler was never part of the deal.
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