Ask.com? Give It to Microsoft; He’ll Eat Anything.
“The big steps we’ve been out and after for the last several years in search [have] not been achieved and you’d have to say that the future is speculative. We’ve been asked a lot whether we’re open to consolidating transactions in the area of search. The answer is yes and it’s unlikely that we would be the consolidator.”
– IAC CEO Barry Diller
If Barry Diller is looking for somewhere to unload IAC’s Ask.com search engine, he’d be wise to consider Microsoft–if he doesn’t have that in mind already. Analysts reflecting on Diller’s recent remarks about Ask’s “speculative future” say Microsoft is the most likely buyer if IAC (IACI) is truly serious about dumping the little search engine that couldn’t.
Ask, analysts note, has about four percent of the domestic search market, which would give Microsoft (MSFT) a nice little bump up from the 9.4 percent market share it currently claims. And it certainly wouldn’t hurt that a Microsoft acquisition would undoubtedly mean the end of Ask’s relationship with Google (GOOG).
“Right now, Microsoft wants share so they could pick up those points from Ask,” Colin Gillis, an analyst at Brigantine Advisors, told Reuters. “Plus it has a double impact since Google powers Ask’s paid search.”