IAC shakeup: Diller steps down; Liberty buys out

The continually troubled digital-media mogul gives up his CEO post, and major shareholder Liberty Media heads for the exit in exchange for $220 million in cash and a big IAC subsidiary.

Barry Diller, the former entertainment mogul who set out to reinvent himself as a digital-media baron in the past decade with his New York-based IAC/InterActiveCorp conglomerate, has stepped down from his post as CEO of the holdings company.

In addition, one of IAC's largest shareholders, cable company Liberty Media, has fully bought out of the conglomerate, giving up its shares of IAC in return for $220 million in cash and the IAC subsidiary that includes Gifts.com and Evite. The transaction was completed yesterday.

Barry Diller IAC

Diller will remain chairman and senior executive of IAC, while the current CEO of IAC portfolio company Match.com, Greg Blatt, will take over as CEO. Remaining IAC brands include Ask.com (which finally has stopped trying to out-algorithm Google ), Vimeo, Citysearch, Reference.com, and the Match family of dating sites.

Liberty Media chairman John Malone had been one of Diller's close confidants, but the relationship grew hostile over the years and reached a fever pitch in 2008 when Diller attempted to spin the sprawling IAC into five separate businesses and Malone attempted to thwart the move by going so far as to file suit in a Delaware court to have Diller ousted from the company board .

The spinoff was ultimately successful , and removed many non-Internet brands from the IAC family.

"We are pleased to welcome Evite and Gifts.com to Liberty Interactive's e-commerce companies," Malone said in a release. "These companies are established leaders and build on our strength in specialty commerce. Our 17-year relationship with Barry has been very beneficial in creating value for our shareholders, and this transaction represents an efficient exit for Liberty from our IAC stake. We will continue to work together through Expedia and various other public vehicles created from our association."

Not mentioned in the announcement from the two companies were the stirs of discontent among some IAC employees that had begun appearing on gossip blogs in recent weeks: one disgruntled tipster told Gawker.com last month that the carpeting in Diller's office in the company's striking, Frank Gehry-designed Manhattan headquarters was worth a full $1 million; that Diller spent thousands of dollars of IAC money on personal travel every day; and that his company car was upgraded from a Mercedes to a Maserati this year.

Last updated at 5:39 a.m. PT.

About the author

Caroline McCarthy, a CNET News staff writer, is a downtown Manhattanite happily addicted to social-media tools and restaurant blogs. Her pre-CNET resume includes interning at an IT security firm and brewing cappuccinos.

 

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