Looking to combine The New York Times Company’s information portal About.com with its own question-and-answer service, Ask.com, Barry Diller’s IAC offered to acquire the About Group on Aug. 21. The NYT Co said Sunday it had agreed to sell the company, which also includes ConsumerSearch.com and CalorieCount.com, to IAC in an all-cash deal that is expected to close in the next several weeks. The NYT Co paid $410M for About in 2005, but its fortunes have soured against competition from Google. Nevertheless, NYT Co chairman Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. said Sunday, “About.com has been a strong contributor to our company since its acquisition. This sale will allow the Times Company to focus on the development and growth of our core brands locally, nationally and on a global scale.”
Barry Diller‘s IAC/Interactivecorp has offered the New York Times Co more than $300 million for the information site portal About.com, Reuters reports. That’s higher than the $270 million offer the NYT has preliminarily accepted from Answers.com, whose President Peter Horan previously served as head of About.com. The fortunes of About.com, which makes its money by selling ads against its content, have soured against competition from Google, so NYT Co wrote down the value of About by $195 million. NYT paid $410 million for About in 2005. The NYT has not solicited bids but IAC, Demand Media and others had approached the publisher, Reuters says, and interested buyers feel the price is low and can easily be matched. Despite IAC’s higher offer, the NYT has not responded. IAC wants to combine About.com with Ask.com which has evolved to a question-and-answer style service that could leverage About.com content.