Twitter's the company that everyone (at TechCrunch Disrupt) is talking about [Updated]
IAC/InterActiveCorp honcho Barry Diller says he doesn’t want to own it. People are telling Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt that he should. The only incontrovertible fact: Twitter is the company on everyone’s lips at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco this week.
"I don’t think much," Diller retorted.
The 4-year-old microblogging service doesn’t appeal to him personally, and it annoys him when his wife, Diane von Furstenberg, tweets about their lives, Diller said.
Schmidt showed up Tuesday to talk about how Google expects mobile searches to generate most of its revenue one day (although not any time soon, even with searches on Android smart phones more than tripling in the first half of 2010).
That key initiative for the Internet search giant to expand its nearly $24-billion online advertising business took a backseat when Schmidt, fielding a question about Twitter, lavished praise on it. He declined to say if Google would buy Twitter (as Silicon Alley Insider has been urging it to do).
"Is there a scenario where you think you don't have to buy Twitter in the near future? I don't see it," Dave McClure, co-founder of venture capital firm 500 Startups, said of Google. "Whatever your math is, you better do it soon, because you're getting killed by Facebook."
Twitter’s executives say the company is not for sale.
As for Ask.com, IAC’s search engine? Let’s just say Diller is not bullish on it. He told Arrington that in 2005, when IAC bought Ask.com for $1.85 billion, he thought that if it innovated, it could gain share. And innovate it did, but competitors just copied the innovations. Now Diller predicts that Ask.com will not gain share and that the fact it retains share is a "bit of a miracle."
Asked if Ask.com had more value within IAC or a standalone company, Diller said: "It has no value within IAC. It might have value standing alone."
[Updated at 1:17 p.m.: Through a representative, Diller said:
"I did not say that Ask has no value inside of IAC, period. In response to a specific question, I said that many of our assets are not 'valued' in the stock, and Ask is one of them. I was asked specifically if Ask would be better off with us or another company or standing alone. In the context of that question, I said that since it wasn't valued in IAC -- like so many of our businesses, because we have so many -- that it would only be 'valued' stand alone."]
-- Jessica Guynn
Photo: Barry Diller Credit: Raul Vasquez / Bloomberg News