IAC’s Diller At Goldman’s Communicopia

Goldman analyst Anthony Noto interviews IACI CEO Barry Diller:

Barry as Cable CEO:  “How concerned would you be if you were cable CEO?”  I don’t think 2008 will be robust year.  After that, cable absolutely is going to be a challenged business.  Will survive for a while, but more and more will move over to online model…

IACI stock repurchases:  We’re doing it.   Are we doing enough of it to make everyone happy?  Of course not.  Whatever: we have to balance these things.

Ask.com: Firing Google as search partner?  Maybe.  Deal ends Dec 31.  We’ve had discussions with big three.  What we want: tools that will help us gain share. Google is the most efficient by a mile: wide gap in revenue per query.  This is a fact of efficiency and liquidity of market.  There’s no chance that a new player can enter.  The world might sustain three ad networks. Can’t imagine more than that.

[Noto posits, intelligently, that the desire for more share makes it inevitable that Ask will resign with Google.  Diller denies.  The later statement about “vast efficiency gap” in monetization makes Noto’s theory even more persuasive.]

One thing I can tell you: Ask is going to be “happily profitable” next year.  We paid $1.8 billion.  We’ll have a very good return.  Zwinky: 9mm uniques a month.  I would have liked our share to grow much more, thought it would be easier than has been, but we have a great product.  We will not do ad platform for Ask ourselves.  No business being in that business. [See Also: How’s IAC’s Ask Doing?  Not Well.  Forecast bad, too.]

Today’s game acquisition: Always loved games but hated all acquisition opportunities (too expensive).  InstantAction.com: simple, in-browser games with cool graphics, open to all game makers with toolset.  Will put up some capital for game development.  Community will be the power.