by Jacob Pirogovsky
IAC began in 1986 and was originally called the Silver King Broadcasting Company and was owned by the Home Shopping Network. Later in 1992, it became its own publicly traded company. The company went through a series of name changes from USA Networks, Inc. to USA Interactive, before finally changing it to IAC/InterActiveCorp in July of 2004. Since that time IAC/InterActiveCrop has been acquiring a variety of companies in a very wide array of different fields. They divide their holdings into four main groups: Search and Applications, The Match Group, Media, and eCommerce. Each of these groups has a plethora of companies, as seen in the image below, all of which influence the decisions and finances of InterActiveCorp as a whole.
This period* has seen a lot of changes for IAC, as well as its subsidiaries. One major one was that Bonnie Hammer, the chairman for NBCUniversal Cable was appointed to the board of IAC in September by IAC’s CEO Barry Diller, who says “She’s a superb businesswoman, programmer and brand builder.” With her expertise in the television industry, she will be able to give the company insight into growing audiences and as a very influential social activist she will be able to attract some positive press for IAC, especially in light of the drama surrounding Tinder’s executives.
In early September a court case was settled between one of Tinder’s co-founders, Justin Mateen, and an early employee, Whitney Wolfe, who accused Mateen of sexual harassment. IAC reached a settlement with Wolfe so that it wouldn’t go to trial, but
everything was deemed confidential so much of what happened is unknown to the public. Mateen left the company after being suspended in July. Now, in November Tinder’s co-founder and CEO Sean Rad has been forced to step down by IAC. The news came to him while he was at the Forbes 30 Under 30 Summit in October, where he was about to announce that Tinder was going to monetize. Both of these things have big implications for Tinder and IAC. The app has grown 600% in the last year and has 30 million users who collectively check out 1.2 billion other users. With the new premium model, revenue predictions for 2015 are about $150 million. Rad, who will remain on the board of Tinder, is working with Matt Cohler, a partner at Benchmark and a newcomer to the Tinder board, to find a new CEO for the company.
In terms of other finances, IAC released a third quarter earnings report for 2014 at the end of October. According to Yahoo! Finance, the company earned about $30 million more than analysts had predicted for this quarter. Overall, it has had 3% growth in the last year. In The Match Group, revenue increased by 12% and in the eCommerce segment, HomeAdvisor’s revenue grew 20%, with an overall growth of 14% in the segment. In the third quarter Search & Applications decreased 3% in the last year. Meanwhile, in the Media segment of IAC, Vimeo revenue increased by 30% and now has more than 530,000 subscribers; however, overall the Media revenue went down 1% in the last year.
Very recently in early November, Mindspark (an IAC subsidiary) acquired Apalon, a company that develops applications for Apple and Google Play, and whose apps have had more than 100 million downloads in the past year. “The combination of Apalon’s world-class mobile app development skills with Mindspark’s proven ability to distribute digital applications at scale is a huge differentiator and strategic advantage in the marketplace,” said Eric Esterlis, co-president of Mindspark. The two companies will complement each other and will help fight the decrease in revenue in the Search and Application segment of IAC.
Another revenue booster for that segment is the redesign of About.com’s website. The site hadn’t been redesigned since 2007, so the re-launch of the site in September has had some profound effects on users. On average they stayed on the site 24% longer and viewed 18% more articles than before the redesign. Additionally, the previous design was built to come up higher in Google searches to increase cost-per-click ad revenue; however, because Google’s algorithm is always changing and to decrease dependency on this type of ad, the site is now making more deals with advertisers to sponsor different sections of the site.
In the eCommerce segment, the EVP and CFO of Shoebuy.com, John Foristall was selected as an honoree “40 Under 40” award, which is given out annually by the Boston Business Journal to people who have made a major impact in their field. In addition, the company partnered with Rodgers and Hamerstein’s Cinderella to launch a limited collection of special occasion footwear inspired by the show. The cooperation helped increase the overall revenue of the segment.
In the media segment, Aereo, an online streaming service that offered live and recorded programs, filed for bankruptcy protection in November, after losing a major court case. The company was said to have violated programming copyright protections, according to a Supreme Court decision. The startup was beginning to revolutionize broadcast TV viewing, and even though it ended up failing, it will most likely lead to future attempts of a similar service.
Up until the past few years, Vimeo, another one of IAC’s media holdings, was having a hard time figuring out how to monetize, other than through subscription users. Now through Vimeo On Demand, their on demand platform, they have an additional revenue stream. In October, they made deals with two big YouTube producers, Phil DeFranco and the Orchard online network, which put their content onto Vimeo as well. Additionally, Vimeo just had their first original series, “High Maintenance,” premiere in November. According to Indiewire, the show is the future for web series and indie television. The series directors were in ongoing talks with FX to bring the show to cable, but ended up cancelling because they didn’t want to lose creative control. In light of that they made a deal with Vimeo for the financing. As Vimeo caters more towards industry professionals, the high production value show has found the perfect home and will bring more revenue to the site. Even though the show has always been on Vimeo, they are now promoting it; and they have given the series it’s own channel and have begun charging 1.99 per episode. This doesn’t seem to be a deterrent because according to Vimeo CEO Kerry Trainor, “High Maintenance” made more money in the first two days after it released and charged for episodes than it would have made with YouTube ad sales over the past two years.
Overall, IAC/InterActiveCorp has had a very busy semester with lots of acquisitions and new deals being made to stay up to date in today’s ever changing fast-paced media driven world. As the year comes to an end, Ask.com recently released the top searches of 2014, marking a comeback in the struggling site. Looking ahead, in all four sectors of the company, IAC plans to maintain and increase its status as the 13th largest network in the world.
*a period from August 25th – December 1st 2014
Barry Diller – Chairman & Senior Executive
Victor Kaufman – Vice Chairman
Jeff Kip – Executive VP & CFO
Greg Blatt – Chairman, The Match Group
555 West 18th Street
New York, NY 10011
Company URL: iac.com
Forbes.com: Tinder harassment settlement, Tinder monetizing/new CEO
Variety.com: Bonnie Hammer story
Tvbythenumbers: Hammer’s social activism information
IAC.com: Q3 report, Brand homepages, executives, Press Releases
Yahoo! Finance: IAC financial information
Bloomberg.com: Aereo story, Vimeo’s new content
IndieWire.com: High Maintenance information
The Hollywood Reporter.com: Vimeo On Demand information
Fastcompany.com: About.com redesign
-Forbes.com: Tinder Co-Founders, Sean Rad Interview
-Bloomberg.com: Aereo Interview, IAC Stock Chart
-Berkeley Investment Group: IAC breakdown chart
-About.com: Website redesign
-Vimeo.com: High Maintenance episode