The InterActiveCorp says that it is in talks to buy Yahoo’s online-dating business, Yahoo Personals, after posting a first-quarter loss due to a dip in online advertising. IAC CEO Barry Diller said Wednesday his company was in discussions around acquiring the Yahoo Personals property, but he cautioned that it was too early to know whether the talks would amount to anything.
“We would love to have Yahoo Personals, and there are discussions about that,” Mr. Diller said on a conference call. IAC owns rival dating site Match.com. Yahoo management has thrown around the idea on whether to sell its dating site for several years. Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz has expressed a new desire to sell-off products and services that aren’t core to its business.
Gene Munster, analyst at Piper Jaffray, said Yahoo Personals could be worth about $500 million, or three to four times an estimated $150 million in annual revenue for the unit.
This consolidation in the dating vertical would be huge leaving only one other top tier competitor, eHarmony left in the space. Sites like American Singles, Perfectmatch.com, Mate1, and Lavalife would move up a notch as new acquisition prospects. I am surprised some of the portals and newspaper properties like McClatchy Company haven’t purchased their own Personals site since classifieds are such an integrated service to the papers. Most portal sites like Comcast.net, Earthlink.net & ATT.net all have personals channels where they partner with sites like Match.com and eHarmony.com.
I wonder how much overlap in subscriber base exists between Match.com and Yahoo Personals and whether they would merge the databases into one if Yahoo would then become Yahoo Personals powered by Match.com or be left as a stand alone brand. It would make sense to me that they merge the data and then allow the Yahoo base full access to additional Match members and vice versa. This could increase conversions on both properties and really allow Match.com to move further ahead of its major competition eHarmony. The acquisition could also be very beneficial for the Chemistry.com brand that Match has struggled to grow and giving it a wider audience on Yahoo Personals would allow for a premium match-making service option.