It’s a Barry Diller pile on! After his IAC/InterActiveCorp posted large losses and disappointing fourth-quarter results yesterday (largely due to the effects the subprime market had on its mortgage site, LendingTree), the embattled CEO, currently locked in a legal battle with his backer, Liberty Media CEO John Malone, who has been trying to oust him, is now taking a beating in the press. “It just seems like Barry Diller doesn’t have enough fingers to plug the holes in this bucket,” RBC Capital Markets analyst Jordan Rohan told the Times. “It seems like a company that’s always firing on only one or two cylinders.”
“There’s probably no momentum to maintain Barry Diller in his current role,” Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Jeffrey Lindsay told Bloomberg. And Forbes suggests that John Malone just go ahead and “close the coffin” on Diller’s reign at the company.
When the topic of a merger with AOL, newly liberated from Time Warner, came up in the IAC conference call yesterday, Diller played it cool. Too cool, for some people. “I just doubt we have very much interest in it,” he said, causing the Times’ Saul Hansell to snipe, “Diller couldn’t do anything even if he was interested,” and note that “entrusting AOL to Mr. Diller may be too much of a risk for Time Warner.” Meanwhile, Diller, who was forced to celebrate his birthday this past weekend modestly, with several old queens, who now doesn’t even get to hold his annual pre–Oscar party, and who recently called his Liberty backer “insane” for trying to push him off the board, is toning down his rhetoric. “I do wish Liberty hadn’t raised the roof on this in such an aggressive way, but they have,” he whined during his conference call yesterday. Then he slunk off and cried.