IAC’s Diller Says His ’Failure’ With Deals Meant A New CEO Was Needed

Barry Diller, the billionaire chairman of IAC/InterActiveCorp, said it was “a failure” on his part not to find more ways to invest the company’s cash when he was serving as IAC’s chief executive officer.

Diller stepped down as CEO of IAC, the operator of dating service Match.com and search engine Ask.com, in part because he decided he wasn’t the best person to seek new opportunities, he said. IAC named Greg Blatt, 42, to the CEO post in December, while Diller kept his position as chairman.

“I wanted somebody fresh because it is a failure,” said Diller, 69, in an interview with Bloomberg Television during the Milken Institute Global Conference in Los Angeles. “You can’t be over-capitalized for a long period of time without admitting you’re just not good enough.”

He said he had looked at every possible deal, and “could not find value.” IAC had $1.32 billion in cash and short-term investments at the end of March.

Diller, whose New York-based company has more than 50 Internet sites, said he has become the “king” of spinning off companies, having separated several of IAC’s businesses, including Expedia Inc. (EXPE), over the past three years. He said he had no current plans to spin off Match.com, which accounts for 24 percent of IAC’s revenue.

IAC Model

IAC rose 11 cents to $35.31, at 4:00 p.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. The shares have risen 23 percent this year.

He said IAC is being built around new opportunities to create and distribute subscription-based content on digital platforms, while “old line, very consolidated big companies feel the forces of creative destruction, which is inevitable.”

Blatt, IAC’s former general counsel and the chief executive of Match.com, has the energy and perspective to seek out ways to expand the business, Diller said.

“I’m saying to him ‘you go search for opportunities. You’re younger, you’re fresher,’” Diller said.

Diller, who had been CEO for six years, said he is adjusting to the role of chairman.

“I’m learning,” he said. “I do feel ultimately responsible. I’m getting better.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Brett Pulley in New York at bpulley@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Elstrom in New York at pelstrom@bloomberg.net.

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