Diller builds buzz with Brown as pair plan news-linking site


Move over, Matt Drudge. A fresh site for aggregating links to the hottest news stories is coming courtesy of Barry Diller and Tina Brown.

Diller's IAC/InterActiveCorp and Diller will bankroll the effort, which doesn't have a name or a launch date. The site will be run by Brown, the so-called "Queen of Buzz" famous for having once been the editor of Vanity Fair and the New Yorker.

Brown also authored "The Diana Chronicles," her tell-all book about Princess Diana, and is writing "The Clinton Chronicles" for release in 2010.

Diller, IAC and Brown aren't discussing details of their venture, though published reports have former Wall Street Journal deputy managing editor Edward Felsenthal as the site's planned editor.

Diller recently won his legal battle with Liberty Media chairman John Malone for control over IAC, and insiders said the victory was instrumental in moving the Brown project forward.

While some have speculated that the site is an attempt by Diller to rejuvenate IAC, such analysis is surely hyperbole. IAC, after all, still is a $6.1 billion company even after its shares have been nearly halved in the past year. Plus, IAC's online content efforts of late — including the financial site FiLife.com, a joint effort with News Corp.'s Dow Jones, and political comedy site 23/6 — are of negligible value compared with such IAC assets as Ticketmaster, Ask.com and HSN.

The new site might be nonpartisan and feature links to worthwhile news stories from many sources, as opposed to relying on its own content.

Although several published reports are comparing the concept of the Diller-Brown site to the Huffington Post, the Drudge Report is a closer analogy because the big draw to the former is its original blog content while Drudge relies mainly on links to outside news sources.

The Huffington Post, run by Brown's friend Arianna Huffington, is by some accounts worth $200 million, many times more than the published speculation of the worth of the Drudge Report. That figure, though, is surely an exaggeration, as the Drudge Report, run on a shoestring budget, is no doubt profitable while the Huffington Post is a money loser.

According to Nielsen/NetRatings, the Drudge Report had 3.5 million unique visitors in February who each spent an average of one hour on the site, while the Huffington Post had 3.8 million visitors who each spent eight minutes on the site.