IAC Bolsters Its Girl Power with StarNet Buy

Over the years, InterActive Corp’s “tween” and teen-focused Consumer Applications and Portals (CAP) division has grown primarily in an organic fashion. But its acquisition this week of StarNet Interactive breaks that mold and CAP will not shy away from grabbing other companies, said John Park, its president and CEO.

“This business was built on a brand we built organically over about an eight year period,” said Park, discussing the StarNet deal. “Are we going to be in an acquisitive mode going forward? Absolutely.”

However, for IAC’s CAP to consider buying other companies, those businesses will probably need to be as perfect a fit with CAP as was StarNet Interactive. StarNet’s GirlSense.com, a social site for girls that focuses on fashion design, melds well with CAP’s teen and tween-oriented sites including virtual world Zwinky, social network profile customizer Webfetti, and SmileyCentral.

“We felt, first of all, that the audience the product [GirlSense] addresses is an audience that’s very complementary with our current product suite,” said Park. “Secondly, it’s just an absolutely great product.”

Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. Glazer said StarNet has about 20 employees, all of whom are staying with the company.

While GirlSense gets most of its revenue from ads supplied by the Glam Network, it also strikes one-on-one deals with advertisers for special campaigns, she said. “We’ve had some very interesting integrated ad deals that really combined advertiser content and site content. We had a Hanna Montana campaign for a home DVD; we had a campaign for The Suite Life of Zack and Cody; and we have another Zack and Cody campaign lined up to go online soon.”

Glazer said GirlSense has almost 13 million users and gets about a million unique visits monthly. The site was spun-off from Israel-based call center improvement company Gteko in 2006 after Gteko was bought by Microsoft.

Park said CAP will likely combine GirlSense with “two or three” of its current properties “and sort of have a critical mass with the tween and teen audience.” For the time being, CAP will build a sales team that will focus on GirlSense, added Park.

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