InterActiveCorp’s Local Dreams

InterActiveCorp CEO Barry Diller told investors that his company’s CitySearch unit is being courted by Google, Yahoo and MSN. Acknowledging that CitySearch “has not made a dime, and has lost many,” Diller said that the company has scaled down in the last six months to focus on pay-for-performance advertising.

What CitySearch needs is more distribution, so search engines are natural partners, according to Diller. “All the national portals are saying they would like to attack local,” Diller said, “but none of them really wants to do it as a high priority.” CitySearch, he said, has spent an enormous amount of money to develop quality local content. “We can identify a restaurant unerringly in terms of all sorts of criteria, and serve [that information to] the customer,” he said.

Diller told his audience that InterActiveCorp doesn’t believe in emphasizing synergy at the expense of individual business units, he promised that CitySearch would be in a very different position in a year, and that in that same amount of time, the holding company’s businesses would combine to deliver very compelling local products. Evite, the social planning Web site owned by InterActiveCorp, will not only link people to each other but to events, for which it will get paid, Diller predicted. Online ticketing service TicketMaster is another InterActiveCorp holding, along with Hotels.com. The company is also developing a stand-alone membership and loyalty service that links with its other holdings. “Take all these other properties, all this traffic and all these natural relationships,” Diller said, “and then see what happens with the sum of the parts.”

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