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Payday Loan Blog - IAC's Acquisition Report Card

 
 Thursday, 28 June 2007

The IAC Report Card

Next in our series of acquisition report cards for “search” companies, we turn to IAC. Previously we scored Google and Yahoo. How will IAC stack up to these two search powerhouses?

Reading further, we come away thinking that IAC is more similar to Yahoo than it is to Google, with a spammier feel, but a stronger domainer brand focus.

To understand the future, we once again need to peer into the past. With the help of the IAC’s major holdings page, the following is an attempt to score each holding. A “good” or “bad” acquisition is based solely on whether IAC has done anything useful, to date, with that holding, in terms of integration with the rest of the network. Since we have no real insight into the depths of IAC, in terms of key engineers that might have floated from one project to another, it is conjecture at best. But hey, we hope you enjoy the analysis anyhow.

COMPANY

BUSINESS AREA

GOOD/BAD

HSN

Retailing

GOOD
(The original focus, so it is difficult to judge; but there is serious volume behind the home shopping network)

Cornerstone Brands

Retailing

MIXED
(Mostly 2nd and third tier brands, which isn’t great, but they are salable through channels such as HSN)

Alsto’s

Retailing

MIXED
(Same situation as Cornerstone…the brands are marginal, but is better when coupled with the right sales channels)

Ballard Designs

Retailing

MIXED
(Again, the same as Cornerstone…most of the brands I’ve not heard of, but it is solid when pushed through the right sales channel)

Frontgate

Retailing

MIXED
(not the best brands, but looking at the site, they integrated the other properties nicely)

Garnet Hill

Retailing

MIXED
(Another 2nd/3rd tier brand that is packaged well with the owned sales channels)

Grandin Road

Retailing

MIXED
(Though it may seem repetitive, this is clearly their business model…buy a weak brand and push sales through the owned channels)

Home Focus

Retailing

MIXED
(see above; weak brand, good sales channel integration)

Individual Original Style

Retailing

MIXED
(Again with the weak brand and strong channel integration)

Isabella Bird

Retailing

MIXED
(If only IAC bought strong brands as well; they’d be unstoppable by now)

Smith + Noble

Retailing

MIXED
(another positive for the weak brand is that it does tie in well with some of the other weak home focus brands)

Territory Ahead

Retailing

MIXED
(For people that want the experience of REI without driving 2 blocks? Still, at least it has the channel integration)

Travel Smith

Retailing

MIXED
(It feels like the softer side of sears, but with links to Hotwire)

Shoesbuy

Retailing

MIXED
(This should be doing better, given the lack of real competition online for the general shoe market; sales integration props up a bad to a mixed)

Bagsbuy

Retailing

GOOD
(it isn’t bags.com, but it isn’t far off either. A decent brand with a good complimentary sales channel is “good”)

Outletbuy

Retailing

MIXED
(They are missing the opportunity to build an overstock competitor, but at least can integrate this with the other weak brands)

ShopChannel

Retailing

GOOD
(If you can’t read it, it’s because you can’t read Japanese; an important market that they have a decent market share of)

TVSN

Retailing

MIXED
(This is going to be their Chinese version of ShopChannel, which is their Japanese version of HSN. We’ll see if it works.)

Ticketmaster

Aggregator

GOOD
(A great brand is important for aggregation, and they’re doing a good job with it)

Reserve America

Aggregator

MIXED
(Something of a weak brand, but when coupled with services like Hotire, it is at worst a “mixed”)

Ticketweb

Aggregator

GOOD
(Though by itself it isn’t much; it reinforces the original Ticketmaster brand)

Reseau Admission

Aggregator

GOOD
(Similar to Ticketweb in that it reinforces the market leader position of Ticketmaster)

BilletNet

Aggregator

GOOD
(Like Admission, but German instead of French)

Billet Service

Aggregator

GOOD
(Norwegian version of reinforcing the market leader…I’m begging to like Ask’s aggregator strategy a lot more than their retailing strategy at this point)

Kartenhaus

Aggregator

GOOD
(same as above)

Lippupalvelu

Aggregator

GOOD
(same as above)

Live Daily

Aggregator

GOOD
(While not the best brand for actual concert news, that it ties in directly to Tickemaster makes it good)

Tick Tack Ticket

Aggregator

GOOD
(Another reinforcement to the market leader – when you are your best competitor, it is hard to lose)

Ticnet

Aggregator

GOOD
(like Lippupalvelu and Kartenhaus)

Cotton Blend

Design

BAD
(I didn’t see a real purpose for an external design firm; there are enough brands to simply develop internally for – cut out the sales force and shave costs)

LendingTree

Aggregrator

GOOD
(Anyone competing against them know how good they are; this is a huge plus for profits alone…but it can tie into the multitude of demographics gleaned from the weak consumer brads; kudos)

Realestate.com

Aggregator

GOOD
(Awesome domain name; easy tie in with LendingTree)

Getsmart

Aggregator

GOOD
(In most cases, they are the chief competitor to Lendingtree on the affiliate biz…or were until they left CJ with 3 days notice)

iNest

Aggregator

MIXED
(Weak brand, but it ties in with the compliments too well to be listed as “bad”)

Domania

Aggregator

MIXED
(Same as iNet; sort of weak, but with great tie ins)

Homeloancenter

Aggregator

GOOD
(This is a pretty good brand on its own, and it ties in well with the complimentary brands)

Service Magic

Aggregator

GOOD
(I’d give it a mix, but it can be cross sold very well to people coming in through the new home loan channel, making it a solid fit)

ImproveNet

Aggregator

GOOD
(Similar to Service Magic; great fix on a so-so brand)

Match.com

Subscription

GOOD
(Solid brand that can pull from consumer demographics as a primer)

Chemistry

Subscription

GOOD
(3 months ago it would be good due to the tie-ins and solid name, but now it is great due to the head-to-head fight with eharmony)

Udate

Subscription

MIXED
(Kinda weak brand, but subscription model businesses work, and there is no shortage of primer data to build that base up)

Entertainment.com

Subscription

GOOD
(Great name, salable product. I used to hate selling these things in high school though)

Sally Foster

Subscription

MIXED
(weak brand, strong channel backing it up)

Interval International

Aggregator

MIXED
(again…weak brand, but great tie in with the demographic data at hand)

Live It Up

Aggregator

GOOD
(So-so brand, but with the tie ins, I have to give it a “good”)

Condo Direct

Aggregator

GOOD
(Just like Live It Up…power in the consumer data on hand)

Smiley Central

Media

GOOD
(I don’t even want to tell you how much they make from this annoying site…adware is a profitable business)

iWon

Media

GOOD
(lotteries are a tax on the stupid; iWon brings them all together)

Ask.com

Media

GOOD
(The brand itself is so-so at the moment, but it has great potential once the algorithmic quality is there, plus the tie ins make it insanely worthwhile)

Myway

Media

MIXED
(Personalized Ask at best, but it isn’t terrible. It’d be better just completely folded into Ask functionality)

Excite

Media

GOOD
(This was a has been, but string enough former stars together and you can get a massive gravity well behind the Ask brand)

Citysearch

Media

GOOD
(local search will become more and more important, and this is a good brand for it, though I feel that it should be incorporated into Ask like myway should be)

Evite

Media

GOOD
(Decent brand to bring people together; a service of Ask might be better – like Google does with its services and products, to reinforce the main brand)

Bloglines

Media

GOOD
(I would give it a mix, but with Feedburner getting picked up by Google, maybe Ask will use this better to understand consumer behavior)

IAC Advertising

Media

GOOD
(Like Adwords/Adsense, but a little weaker still)

Gifts.com

Emerging Biz

GOOD
(this is just an incredible domain name; it will be hard to screw up)

Pronto.com

Emerging Biz

MIXED
(A me-too at this point, but it could be decent with the right consumer product tie-ins)

College Humor

Emerging Biz

GOOD
(By itself, mixed, when tied in with match and chemistry, good)

Vimeo

Emerging Biz

MIXED
(Good concept for Ask to jump into, but at this point it is well behind Youtube)

Busted Tees

Emerging Biz

GOOD
(A brand I’ve heard of backed by a very extensive sales channel can make this work)

Very Short List

Emerging Biz

MIXED
(mostly because it is somewhat confusing. It reminds me of Amazon’s personalized products with Google search history…we’ll see what they do with it)

Judging IAC might be best on a per sector basis first, and then as a whole. As a whole, I’m actually surprised…before the research began, I didn’t realize to the extent they have stretched their corporate tentacles; their good sectors prop up their weaker sectors in a very intelligent way.

Retailing = Mixed
(mostly weaker brands that are pushed through some pretty good sales channels)

Aggregator = Good
(a lot of brand reinforcement and complimentary sales)

Subscription = Good
(mostly due to the dating sites)

Media = Good
(they have the opportunity to tie together their media properties into something to rival Yahoo at the very least)

Emerging Biz = Mixed
(Gifts.com alone makes it good, but some of the other services could be more miss than hit).

The aggregator market is actually better than it appears because aggregation markets prosper when they have access to a lot of consumer information, which they would have due to the retailing market…very clever. The same trend continues throughout their business model.

What is the strength of having a dozen 2nd tier retail sites? Consumer information. How can that consumer information be best used? Dating, mortgages, more consumer products. This Diller guy seems to know what he’s doing. If Yahoo ever gets its act together and ties together the various networks it owns, then the value of that one yahoo account to control everything climbs exponentially. For IAC, a renter that buys a pair of pants online might be in the market for a house, and then in the market for some home improvement. Is the person single? Sell some dating services. What if that person came through on the HSN? Well, send them to iwon and smileycentral, pushing Ask.com brands all the way.

We have not heard the last of IAC; my prediction is that Diller will continue to quietly purchase mid-brand consumer goods companies/sites, premium domains, and build/buy strong aggregator brands. How long until they own a couple travel aggregators beyond their current deals with Hotwire? If I were in IAC corporate strategy, I’d be bristling with excitement right about now. With that much consumer information, the world is theirs.

JoeSinkwitz



Thursday, 28 June 2007 08:45:27 (US Mountain Standard Time, UTC-07:00)  #     
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