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Barry Diller's IAC to Acquire About.com for $300 Million

Barry Diller
Jonathan Fickies/Bloomberg/Getty Images

IAC's Ask.com search engine will integrate the New York Times-owned collection of web sites focused on various topics, including from the film and TV worlds.

Barry Diller's IAC said Sunday night that its Ask.com search engine has agreed to acquire the About Group, which owns About.com, from the New York Times Co. for $300 million in cash.

About.com is a portfolio of sites focused on various topics - from travel topics to world and independent film, action figures and reality TV - curated by experts. Overall, it offers content across 90,000 topics.

"The About.com acquisition is completely in line with IAC's M&A strategy of acquiring, at disciplined valuations, companies that are complementary and synergistic with both our existing businesses and our areas of expertise," said IAC CEO Greg Blatt. "We are extremely excited to bring these two businesses together."

About.com's content "will differentiate and greatly increase the authority of Ask.com's offerings, while Ask's expertise in search technology and user experience will improve the discoverability of existing content on About.com," he said.

In terms of financial benefits, Blatt predicted synergies between what he said are two complementary businesses. "About.com will generate more profit as a part of Ask.com and IAC than it has been able to over the last few years," he predicted. About has strived to make its content appear higher up in search engine, which helps attract advertising revenue.

The IAC bid beat out a previously reported $270 million offer from Answers.com, which is owned by private equity groups. The New York Times had acquired About in 2005 for around $400 million to diversify beyond its core publishing assets.

Globally, nearly 100 million unique users visit About.com on a monthly basis, according to the companies. Ask.com has more than 100 million users worldwide.

The About Group will become part of IAC's search and applications unit, which beyond Ask.com also includes such assets as Dictionary.com and Mindspark. 

Darline Jean, About's CEO, will report to Ask.com CEO Doug Leeds.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai