NEW YORK: Once upon a time everything touched by media mogul Barry Diller (pictured) turned to gold, transmuting him from just another Hollywood and internet executive into a Wall Street alchemist. Note, however, the use of the past tense – as have many of Diller's investors.
Alan Gould, media and entertainment analyst at Natixis Bleichroeder doesn't mince words about the fall of the quondam king: "He once had the Diller sizzle. Now, you've got investors saying 'I don't want to touch anything' [that he runs]."
But Diller has read the writing on the wall and acted to reverse the decline. Whether in time to restore his former reputation remains to be seen.
As of Thursday Diller's IAC/InterActiveCorp formally split into five discrete publicly-traded companies: HSN (formerly Home Shopping Network), Ticketmaster, Interval International (a time-share supplier) and mortgage provider LendingTree.
Meantime, IAC will continue to trade as a separate holding company for Diller's internet businesses which include Ask.com, Citysearch, Evite and Match.com.
Investors' snap reaction was one of relief, welcoming the availability of more information about Diller's myriad companies and their sixty-plus brands.
Formerly, says Vogel Capital Management ceo Harold Vogel: "No one could make heads or tails of it. You needed a playbook to figure out whether IAC was making or losing money."
And according to IAC cfo Thomas McInerney, investors can now deposit their dollars in operations they like – and avoid the ones they don't.
"When you're in a multibusiness construct, it's easy for one underperforming business to drag down the whole," he says. "It becomes a 'yeah, but.' This is an attempt to get rid of the 'yeah, but.' "
Data sourced from USA Today; additional content by WARC staff