Give Barry Diller credit for candor, if not discretion.
Speaking Wednesday at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco, the InterActiveCorp CEO dismissed the worth of Ask.com within IAC, which purchased the search engine in 2005 for nearly $2 billion in a stock deal.
“I don’t think anybody ascribes any meaningful value to Ask.com when compared to a site like Vimeo which has huge potential,” he said. Vimeo is an online-video site within IAC’s portfolio.
Diller did say the search engine might have some value as a stand-alone company. If so, it wouldn't be much these days. Less than 4 percent of Internet searches are conducted through Ask.com, based on the latest data from comScore -- which is a slight problem if you're in the business of Internet search. That's down from 4.5 percent three years ago.
As Greg Sterling over at Search Engine Land notes, at the time of the purchase Diller "thought he would be able to grow Ask’s market share by 5 and maybe even 10 points. There was much skepticism at the time of course but apparently not on Diller’s part."
Apparently not. The question is, what becomes of Ask.com now? If Diller's strategy was to advertise its availability for purchase, his comments won't exactly whet the appetites of potential buyers.