The Bald Mountain resort in Sun Valley offers moguls for advanced skiers all winter long. Media reporters show up every July for the other kind of mogul, who lands among the picturesque Idaho mountains on a private jet and has a name like “Rupert Murdoch” or “Barry Diller.”
Allen & Co’s 27th Sun Valley media and technology conference starts on July 7 and ends on July 12. In the meantime, expect media writers to breathlessly report, blog, tweet, photograph and record the event. Why the fuss? There are literally hundreds of people coming who are known to do nothing else than run the universe when it comes to TV shows, movies, telecoms, the Internet and all sorts of other electronic communications. We have lists of all the people who bankroll them as well, along with a list of other interesting people you will find there.
IAC chief Barry Diller has spent the last year building and then sitting on a pile of cash, which rose to $2 billion in the first quarter — only some $400 million less than its entire market cap of $2.4 billion. Journalists and Wall Street have asked Diller repeatedly how he intends to use the cash. A big M&A move perhaps? A generous one-time dividend maybe? Or share buybacks?******Diller is focused on adding to his empire of Internet units in small increments rather than making major acquisitions. That empire includes dating site Match.com, search engine Ask.com, event planning site evite and many others.******Here’s Diller back in April on the first quarter conference call with analysts: “While I can’t say what we’ll do, obviously, other than invest in the businesses we have, because we believe they’re worthy of investments, relatively small scale, we’re open but I am actually not optimistic about being able to extensively spend the enormously large amounts of cash that we have. It could change on a dime, but there it is at the moment.”******True to his word Match.com said on Tuesday it has signed an agreement to buy People Media, an operators of targeted dating sites for $80 million in cash from American Capital Ltd.******People Media owns 27 dating sites incluing BlackPeopleMeet.com, SingleParentMeet.com and SeniorPeopleMeet.com with a combined 255,000 paying subscribers. IAC said People Media generated $11.6 million in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) in 2008.
Facebook has been mapping swine flu discussions among its members for the past few days using its Lexicon application, and it’s pretty cool to see how the conversation on Wall posts shot up over the weekend as more and more cases of the disease came to light in the United States.
from Summit Notebook:
IAC Chief Executive Barry Diller took several groups to task at the Reuters Media Summit, but he reserved special disgust for CEOs at profitable companies who add to the country's rising unemployment rate.
Barry Diller likes social networks. He says they function as telephones used to: they help us communicate with each other. But one thing they don’t do is make money. Here’s what he told the Goldman Sachs Ninth Annual Internet Conference today in Vegas:
Billionaire investor Carl Icahn fired a salvo at Yahoo on Thursday morning, threatening a proxy fight unless Yahoo gets Microsoft back to the negotiating table.******In a letter to Yahoo Chairman Roy Bostock he said Yahoo’s board had acted “irrationally” in turning away an offer that amounted to a 72 percent premium and warned Yahoo not to announce any “strategic alternatives” (such as a deal with AOL or Google) without a shareholder vote.***
I am perplexed by the board’s actions. It is irresponsible to hide behind management’s more than overly optimistic financial forecasts. It is unconscionable that you have not allowed your shareholders to choose to accept an offer that represented a 72% premium over Yahoo’s closing price of $19.18 on the day before the initial Microsoft offer. I and many of your shareholders strongly believe that a combination between Yahoo and Microsoft would form a dynamic company and more importantly would be a force strong enough to compete with Google on the Internet.