Barry Diller Gets in Line to Buy About.com. Anyone Else?
But just in case, Barry Diller would like the Times to know he’s interested, too.
As Reuters reported earlier today, Diller’s IAC has put in its own bid for About. I don’t know the exact amount Diller says he’s willing to pay, but sources familiar with his offer say it is above $300 million and “substantially more” than $270 million.
And Diller may not be the only one willing to bid for About.
For starters, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Demand Media make an offer. Sources familiar with the companies say both IAC and Demand had signaled their interest in About earlier this year, but that the publisher “went dark” this spring, presumably because it was lining up its Answers deal.
The question is whether Diller and/or anyone else will ever have a chance to negotiate with the Times. As I reported earlier this month, Answers and its private equity backers have signed a letter of intent to buy About. That means Answers has some window of exclusivity to get the deal done, and the Times can’t shop it around until that expires.
Presumably, the Times could try to find some way to extract itself from that deal if it thought it could make a lot more money on About. But that would be messy. And my gut is that unless someone makes a truly outsized offer for the property, the Times would just as soon get About off its books quickly — a move Wall Street has already endorsed.