The New York Times Company is shedding About.com and its sister sites, and they're being snapped up by Barry Diller's IAC. The Times Company had earlier considered a $275 million bid by Answers.com, but will instead sell the About network to IAC for some $300 million in cash, the Times reported last night. The site, once a moneymaker for the Times Company (which purchased it for $400 million in 2005), took a big hit after a Google algorithm change last year; revenue was down 8.7% in the last quarter to $25.4 million.
Times chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. says the sale will allow the company to "focus on the development and growth of our core brands." It follows the unloading of its stake in Boston Red Sox owner Fenway Sports Group in May, as well as the January sale of its regional media business. So why would Diller's IAC (which claims the Daily Beast and Match.com) want what the Atlantic Wire describes as "a website that often muddles our Google search results, yet looks so, so not authoritative"? It offers four theories, like the fact that About.com fits in nicely with other IAC sites that Diller has been able to squeeze a profit out of, like Dictionary.com and Ask.com. And it posits he may be considering mashing up About.com with the latter. Click for more.