In the second quarter, IAC swung from a $94.6 million profit last year to a $421.6 million loss this year. Don't blame Jakob Lodwick! His former company, Vimeo, is nowhere near the top of IAC/InterActiveCorp's expense report for the past quarter. The real problem at Barry Diller's Internet empire is Cornerstone Brands, a rollup of catalog companies undermined by weak consumer spending in home and apparel retail. Cornerstone's losses led to a $300 million writedown in goodwill in IAC's second quarter. In addition, the soft real estate market cut revenue for home financing site LendingTree nearly in half.IAC is moving ahead with plans to spin off four of its divisions by the end of August: HSN (which includes Cornerstone), Ticketmaster, Tree.com (which includes LendingTree), and Interval Leisure Group, which operates vacation sites including ResortQuest Hawaii. That leaves IAC with Ask.com, Match.com and Citysearch. What's happening? Simple: Diller and company have learned that bundling a bunch of diverse online businesses together doesn't create the promised "synergy" of the Web 1.0 boom. Better to let each site fend for itself. Since IAC got rid of Expedia in 2005 (Barry Diller's still chairman of the board), the travel site's ups and downs have closely followed the travel market. That's the watercooler version. You can wonk out with the full details.
Los Angeles-based law firm Kabateck Brown Kellner filed a class action suit against IAC property Citysearch, alleging the site charges pay-per-click advertisers for fraudulent clicks. The firm has won similar cases against Yahoo and Google. All the major search firms now belong to anti-click fraud coalitions and make lots of nice noises about the problem. Truth is, click fraud isn't much of one. As Google CEO Eric Schmidt explained during an unguarded moment a couple years ago, click fraud will never be that much of a problem because if fraudulent clicks devalue the worth of click for an advertiser, that advertiser can always pay less per click.
The first rule of Valleywag: Never pitch Valleywag. But sometimes the temptation just proves too great. In response to a post about Google and Yelp's rivalry in local search, a MerchantCircle employee contacted us to tout the company's supposed leadership in the market, pitching the site for some Valleywag love. Well, here's some tough love. We've looked into MerchantCircle's business model .. and found nothing but self-love.
All we care about is Tina Brown and expensive restaurants, and we haven't really talked about expensive restaurants lately, so I'm going to try to compensate. Citysearch has a mini-guide to dining in New York that includes tips on how to get a table at Babbo and how to throw a private luau. (But, alas, nothing on how to throw a private luau at Babbo.)
Dining in New York: insider's guide [Citysearch]