Asked about selling search, Barry Diller says yes

IAC's CEO says he's open to the idea of selling Ask.com, which has failed to gain any sort of traction in the search market against powerful competitors.

Ask.com could soon be up for sale, judging by the comments of IAC CEO Barry Diller. Screenshot by Tom Krazit/CNET

Ask.com could be on the block, judging by the comments of the CEO of its parent company.

Reuters reported on IAC's third-quarter earnings conference call Tuesday, where CEO Barry Diller all but opened the bidding for the struggling search engine. Despite a novel promotional deal with Nascar , Ask.com has failed to make much headway against the great powers of search in Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft.

"We've been asked a lot whether we're open to consolidating transactions in the area of search. The answer is yes," Diller was quoted by Reuters as saying. "And, it is unlikely that we would be the consolidator."

Search consolidation is already in full swing in 2009, with the government reviewing a pending deal between Microsoft and Yahoo that would see Microsoft installed as the exclusive provider of search technology on Yahoo's Web sites. That government scrutiny could make it more difficult for IAC to sell Ask.com to Google or Microsoft, assuming they would be interested.

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