NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Barry Diller is stepping down as CEO of IAC/InterActiveCorp., the owner of web properties including Ask.com, Citysearch, Urbanspoon, College Humor and The Daily Beast, where Mr. Diller just negotiated a 50-50 joint venture with Newsweek.
IAC named Greg Blatt, the CEO of IAC property Match.com since February 2009, to succeed Mr. Diller, who will remain as chairman. Match is IAC's best performing property, accounting for over a quarter of the company's overall revenue.
IAC also said today that one of its largest shareholders, Liberty Media, has cashed out its 60% stake in the company for $220 million in cash as well as the Evite and Gifts.com businesses.
"It's been clear to me for some time that this company needs a full time, aggressive and aspirational executive in the CEO role," Mr. Diller said in a statement. "While I'm not going anywhere, IAC, with its operating businesses growing, large cash resources and virtually no debt, needs the kind of leadership that Greg Blatt can bring it in order to continue to grow and thrive many years into the future."
Mr. Diller's move underscores the sometimes whimsical nature of IAC, which Mr. Diller formed in 2003 to house his various businesses, from Ticketmaster and Hotels.com to the Home Shopping Network. Mr. Diller soon focused IAC on digital properties, acquiring a series of service-oriented sites such as Expedia, Match, TripAdvisor and CitySearch. According to one insider, "Barry pretty much buys whatever personally interests him."
That was clearly the motivation behind the launch of Tina Brown's The Daily Beast two years ago. Just last month Mr. Diller negotiated a deal merging the Beast, which has yet to turn a profit, with Newsweek, making Ms. Brown editor of both the Beast site and the 77-year-old magazine.
Despite Mr. Diller's diminished role and a stake in the company that's reduced to 34%, he will have the largest individual voting stake in the company. IAC said he will also have the option to increase his stake to as much as 41% within the next nine months.