Sunday, March 27, 2005

Jeeves Goes to Serve Diller's IAC/InterActiveCorp for $1.85 Billion: Why the Yawns?

Mind you the announced deal by Barry Diller's IAC/InterActiveCorp to acquire search portal AskJeeves for about USD 1.85 billion in net cash is not the biggest surprise as of late, but it's interesting how it's receded into the coverage woodwork fairly quickly. Jeeves is a competent search portal that pioneered the concept of answering consumers' questions and that has recently bolstered its online resources to provide better answers and more user-friendly services. It's commercially attuned search results and services are a great match for IAC's wide stable of leading online ecommerce and personal service portals, a Yahoo!-like framework that can be used to glue these properties into the semblance of a cohesive online media presence rather than balkanized stand-alone sites. Yet why does that seem to be so...20th century? Diller has a great nose for successful media properties, but this may be an instance where one plus one equals three or more. It's hard to imagine that a Jeeves-enabled service could be anything more than a third or fourth place contender in the online portal wars - which may be enough in IAC's mind to justify the purchase. With Jeeves search options on IAC's wide catalog of successful portals Jeeves may have a new entree into the minds of consumers that had been lacking before in a pure search-only approach to getting in front of users. This may be one of those instances where the boutiques wind up sending traffic to the "department store" search engine rather than vice versa. That may be all the synergy that IAC needs out of this deal - for now.
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