Hold on to your hats ladies and gentleman, search is about to get smaller again if Barry Diller gets his way. Hot off their earnings call for the quarter, Diller’s IAC has mentioned that they would be open to a sale of their Ask.com search engine.
This right after the gigantic Yah00-Microsoft deal that will bring the vast majority of search under two roofs. Ask has long been the fourth wheel in search, never making much consumer headway. Its market share has hovered in lower single digits for most of recent memory.
But now Diller might be looking to slough it off, if he can find a buyer. Ask is currently monetized through a deal with Google, so it seems hardly likely that Microsoft will want to pay to play. Google has no need to purchase something that it already has the purse strings to, and Yahoo is leaving search.
Name another internet giant that is actively pushing on search and has the cash to buy Ask. Don’t have anyone in mind? You are not alone. A few years back there was a general back-of-the-envelope calculation that pegged 1% of the search market at a value of one billion dollars. By that math, Ask is worth around four billion dollars.
Hardly pocket change for a company that has never captivated the consumer.
If Diller does manage to convince a giant to purchase Ask, and it is rolled into a current offering, we will go from four to two search engines in just a year. You can almost touch the anti-trust legislation coming down the pipeline.
Of course, until a suitor comes along, Ask is just another person at the dance waiting for a date. But if you know Mr. Diller, you know that he has a propensity for getting his way, and making deals happen. He just might pull it off.
Given that Ask might be leaving us, we wanted to use their old logo that we love.