The Maffei Identity

Maffei
Photo: Newscom

Liberty Media's effort to seize control of InterActiveCorp, the $7 billion e-commerce company built by Barry Diller with Liberty's backing, is not being driven by Malone alone. The Wall Street Journal this morning tells us a little bit about the third man involved in the mission of ousting Diller, one who may have been hired for the purpose. He even has a hit-man–like name: Gregory Maffei. Gregory Maffei. Scary! Where was Maffei before he was hired at Liberty? Zapping people in a Harry Potter novel? Building homemade bombs in Chechnya? No. Actually, he worked for Bill Gates and Larry Ellison. Then he became the chairman of IAC offshoot Expedia, where he first tangled with Diller. Relations, the Journal tells us, soon became "cold." The point is, like any good assassin, Maffei has gotten to know his mark. (When Malone made him CEO, it was due, according to the Journal, to his "understanding of Barry Diller's very delicate psyche.") Now, it appears he's using his knowledge to systematically destroy Diller: It was his plan to attempt to legally dismantle the agreement the company made with Diller back in the nineties that guaranteed him voting rights, an agreement he had believed was ironclad. "These people are insane!" Diller sputtered when he found out yesterday. Indeed. Insanely brilliant. This whole thing is going to get a lot more interesting.

A Not-So-Loving Triangle [WSJ]