• It's official: Oprah says she plans to call it quits in September 2011. [ABC]
• Layoffs: The BusinessWeek cuts continue (and include a handful of the mag's more notable names); meanwhile the AP body count now stands at 90.
• Sarah Palin sold 300,000 copies of her book the first day, alas. [TDB]
• Condé Nast and Adobe are teaming up to bring Wired to electronic reading devices. Digital versions of Vogue, VF, and the NYer will follow. [WSJ]
• Vogue's design director is exiting the magazine after a four-year run. [WWD]
• In other Anna news, her de facto stepdaughter, Alexis Bryan Morgan, is leaving the Condé Nast family to take Nina Garcia's old job at Elle. [NYM]
• Cable mogul John Malone isn't happy about the idea of Comcast and NBC teaming up. Meanwhile NBC chief Jeff Zucker is staying mum about the deal.
• Another rumored Playboy bidder is denying interest in an acquisition. [NYT]
• Does Bonnie Fuller's new website stand a chance? [NYP]
• Tense negotiations over proposed budget cuts continue between the New York Times Co. and unions that represent workers at the Boston Globe; in the meantime, the Times has postponed plans to shut down the paper. [NYT, WSJ]
• Another way the Times is planning to rake in some much needed cash: It may raise newsstand prices as early as this week. [FT]
• NBC announced several shows that it plans to add to primetime. One show noticeably missing from the lineup: Law and Order. [Variety, NYT]
• Ex-Portfolio publisher William Li has landed at Condé Nast Traveler. [NYO]
• A positive aspect to the cuts at Conde Nast? Media buyers "say that publishers and salespeople are becoming easier to work with. [Crain's]
• Wolverine grossed a whopping $87 million at the box office. [Variety]
• Despite the change in moderators, NBC's Meet the Press continues to dominate the Sunday morning competition. [THR]
• MTV has canceled 50 Cent's reality show. [NYP]
• The New York Times Co. is busy trying to raise capital, but the company may have to take more radical action to turn the ship around. [Reuters]
• Magazine editors on how to find happiness in 10 minutes or less. [WWD]
• It's been a lousy year for most media moguls, but Liberty Media's John Malone appears to have had the least miserable one. [NYT]
Liberty Media CEO John Malone told the Financial Times his company is ready to swap its $1.42 billion stake in Time Warner in order to acquire AOL's dialup business. There's just one holdup. "Time Warner still needs to divide the business," Malone complained to the FT. Though it's been more than two years since Time Warner decided to turn AOL into an online advertising concern and abandon the Internet service provider business, AOL won't be completely split until early 2009. Malone isn't the only exec impatient for Time Warner's book keepers to hurry it up. AOL CEO Randy Falco was overheard last week griping: "When is New York going to sell us?"
During a conference call to reports Liberty Media's second-quarter earnings, CEO John Malone told analysts the company was open to exchanging its stake in Time Warner for AOL's online access business. Liberty owns 103 million Time Warner shares, or about 2.8 percent of the company. Such a swap would value AOL's access business at around $1.6 billion, lower than the $2 billion to $3 billion analysts say its worth. A swap would lower Time Warner's tax burden, however, possibly making the deal more attractive. Earlier this year, Liberty performed a similar swap with News Corp., trading its stake in the company for control over DirecTV.
IAC's Barry Diller has just explained-to the audience at the Wall Street Journal's D Conference-the breakdown of his relationship with the internet conglomerate's biggest shareholder, evil John Malone's Liberty Media. Paid Content was taking notes. Diller's metaphor? "Partnerships are marriages without the stuff." Oops, Freudian slip!
Lexico, the company behind reference sites like Dictionary.com and Thesaurus.com, has been acquired by also-ran search engine Ask.com, a unit of Barry Diller's IAC, for an undisclosed sum. It will mean an 11 percent boost in traffic for Ask and more revenue for Lexico's sites, as Google had cut a special deal with IAC for a higher revenue share than it would give to the likes of Dictionary.com. Possibly tipping their hand about future moves, Ask CEO Jim Safka told the AP the site was also looking to improve results related to health and entertainment, presumably through more acquisitions. The move comes after IAC's Barry Diller settled a fight with Liberty's John Malone, a major IAC shareholder, over plans to split the company into five different parts.
Having escaped John Malone's hook, former studio boss and internet tycoon Barry Diller is attempting to reinvent himself, says Portfolio's Duff McDonald. The new Diller trademark? Humility. "We were kidding ourselves if we thought we could pull off an integrated conglomerate that acts like G.E. or P&G in anything less than 10, 20, or 30 years." Diller is indeed cutting internet conglomerate IAC down to a more manageable rump of web sites such as Ask, Citysearch and Evite. But the 65-year-old tycoon hasn't entirely lost his trademark vindictiveness. Doug Lebda-who sold Diller online mortgage search engine Lending Tree for $726m before the real-estate bubble burst-was prepared to buy the business back at a discount. Why hasn't that happened? "No one is allowed to school Diller twice," says a mogul watcher.
"Fresh off his legal victory over Liberty Media, IAC/InterActiveCorp boss Barry Diller is expected to meet with his board this week to restart the process of breaking up his company into five separate pieces, The Post has learned. At the same time, sources said Diller and Liberty Media Chairman John Malone are continuing to talk about a deal that would trade one or more of IAC's assets for Liberty's ownership stake in IAC." [Post]
So internet mogul Barry Diller won the struggle for control of IAC, the ungainly conglomerate which owns sites such as Ticketmaster and College Humor. Here's his celebratory announcement to employees. It's rather clunkier than one expects of the highly quotable IAC boss. Presumably Diller means, in the last line, that employees can have more confidence in the future; wishing IAC colleagues instead more surefootedness implies that IAC's missteps were somehow their fault. And some graphically-aware assistant really should help the 66-year-old former studio boss change his default email font.
Score one for the bitter old queen. Barry Diller, battling with major IAC shareholder John Malone in court, has won the right to break up IAC without interference from Malone's Liberty. This solves one problem for Diller, but creates another. Instead of running one hodgepodge of Internet businesses, he'll have five of them to worry about. Sparring with Malone, a business ally turned enemy, will look simple compared to regaining Wall Street's affections.
The scene: two billionaires, former friends, are feuding over an internet conglomerate, IAC. John Malone's initial salvo comes in quotes given by the corporate assassin to the Wall Street Journal. Barry Diller, IAC's chairman, described his reaction in this week's court struggle for control of the sprawling internet company.
Malone: "The hook is set. It is our company... Barry ain't going to be able to spit the hook."
Diller: "I sail. I don't fish. I got the point."
Barry Diller is still pissed at Greg Maffei, the Liberty Media executive who broke up his close relationship with Liberty Chairman John Malone. Here is how Diller began testimony in his court battle to retain control of IAC: "Mr. Maffei, 47 years old, was an 'irresponsible executive,' Mr. Diller testified in Delaware Chancery Court. 'For over a year and a half, he has spoken badly about our businesses and our managers,' said Mr. Diller, who is scheduled to continue his testimony today." [WSJ]
Here's more evidence that Barry Diller sees the family of his companion, Diane von Furstenberg, as the dynasty the gay media mogul would never have otherwise had. The court battle over control of Diller's IAC has turned up an email in which Diller discussed a plan to seize voting control of the internet conglomerate. The recipient: not a business advisor, but sexy baldie Alex von Furstenberg, son of the fashion designer and likely heir to Diller's fortune.
For IAC's Barry Diller and his backer John Malone, the two billionaires wrestling for control of the internet conglomerate this week, a lawsuit is merely the continuation of negotiation by other means. A witness notes that the moguls are continuing settlement talks even as they trash each other in a Delaware court.
Evil queen and IAC CEO Barry Diller used to get along great with his gruff sugar daddy John Malone of Liberty Media, making business dates and talking about deals together. Then Greg Maffei came along, from the kill-or-be-killed culture of software maker Oracle, and became Malone's new "point man." All of a sudden, "everything got much more contentious" between Malone and Diller, an IAC board member testified yesterday, in a trail where Diller and Malone are struggling for control of the company. Now Diller is just a spurned partner "looking for a divorce," Maffei said. [NYT, WSJ]
One expects flouncy Barry Diller, when he testifies in this week's court battle for control of IAC, will provide the colorful language which has kept journalists sweet for him for so many decades. But John Malone, the soulless corporate raider who is trying to seize the internet conglomerate from Diller, didn't do so badly himself today. The Coloradan billionaire told the Delaware court that the extravagant Diller, who decked out his office in IAC's Gehry-designed headquarters with fabulously expensive rugs, had made "a fine art" of his exploitation of the company jet.