Is Digg on Barry Diller's IAC shopping list? Move over News Corp.

Barry Diller is on an IAC/InterActiveCorp mission. In reporting his company’s Q3 earnings today, the IAC Chairman and CEO said:We are unabashedly building an interactive conglomerate.

Barry Diller is on an IAC/InterActiveCorp mission. In reporting his company’s Q3 earnings today, the IAC Chairman and CEO said:

We are unabashedly building an interactive conglomerate. We have three interrelated strategies: one, the growth of each of our businesses; two, Ask.com as the connecting thread; and three, all our cross company efforts which allow us to leverage our audience, scale and diversified expertise.

Diller’s typical exuberance in the innate potential of IAC properties is in stark contrast with a recent public appearance by IAC exec Kara Nortman, VP M & A.

In “Web 2.0 meets local search?” I recount Nortman’s participation in a Local Ad World conference panel in New York City last week:

Nortman was seated next to Dominic Preuss, Product Manager, Google, and seized the opportunity to give the nod to Google several times for being a “democratizing” force online, which she characterized as a “beautiful thing!”

Nortman praised Google’s “self-service portal,” although Citysearch has invested heavily in a direct sales force.

Nortman also decried the low percentage of small businesses on the Web, saying there has to be easier ways for SMEs to get online. Citysearch.com’s pitch to SMEs, however, touts the ease of working with Citysearch.”

Nortman did not tout the work of Citysearch or Ask.com, even though she is a top IAC exec and was representing IAC on an industry panel about local and search. For Nortman, local and search are all about Google, and that is a “beautiful thing.”

For Nortman’s boss, Diller, though, IAC is a beautiful thing:

IAC released third quarter 2006 results today, reporting over $1.6 billion in revenue, an 11% rate of growth over the prior year, and $172 million of operating income before amortization, reflecting a similar growth rate.

How does Diller plan on unabashedly continuing to build his interactive conglomerate?

Diller has allocated a “hundreds of millions of dollars” acquisition war chest to Michael Jackson, programming president at IAC, as reported by the New York Times today. For Diller, targeted online content sites are “a wonderful area right now to invest in.” 

Don’t expect Diller to follow the News Corp. MySpace route, though, with a high-profile, high-cost acquisition without a proven earnings track-record:

Making very large bets on businesses that don’t yet have a business model is just not our history. I’ll leave that to the media imperialists.

What would Diller bet IAC dollars on?

A low-cost nascent Web property, particularly in the “news” category. Jackson, Diller’s protégé, is honing in on sites that “aggregate and edit news and help point people to the best information available.” 

Kevin Rose, are you listening?

ALSO SEE: "News on Digg acquistion? How about MySpace?"

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