Ticketmaster Online-CitySearch Inc. expanded its palette of
offerings last week with its agreement to purchase Match.com, Cendant Corp.'s online
matchmaking and dating service.
The deal, subject to regulatory approval, is expected to
close in the summer. Terms were not disclosed, but sources said it was a cash and stock
deal. Ticketmaster-CitySearch is controlled by USA Networks Inc.
"We believe that online matching for friends or
romantic partners is a natural fit with our city-guide business," said Charles Conn,
chief executive officer of Ticketmaster Online-CitySearch, in a prepared statement.
"We think finding people to do things with is fundamentally local and is a natural
extension to our online offerings."
The deal supplements Ticketmaster-CitySearch's other online
services -- city entertainment guides, live-event ticketing and local auctions.
Match.com offers single adults a fun, safe, and convenient
venue for hooking up with other singles. The service touts 1.8 million registered members
to date, with 20 million-plus page views per month and 200,000 relationships arranged,
resulting in more than 650 marriages. Members tend to be high-income professionals. The
Web site's business model is three-pronged, generating revenue from subscriptions,
advertising and commerce.
"We're excited about this opportunity to team up
with the leading city-guide business and bring local content to our members," said
John Spottiswood, president of Match.com, in a prepared statement. "Ticketmaster
Online-CitySearch offers the information and resources our members need to move their
meaningful online relationships into the off-line world."
Match.com was launched in 1995 by Cendant, which owns such
companies as Avis Rent A Car System Inc. and Century 21 Inc. Based in San Francisco, The
site has won several awards from PC Week and USA Today, among others.
USA's move comes on the heels of a major setback: the
dissolution of Ticketmaster-CitySearch's acquisition of Lycos Inc., the Internet portal,
after a Lycos stockholder revolt. That deal would have combined Ticketmaster-CitySearch
and USA's Home Shopping Network with Lycos.
One silver lining in the Lycos breakup was a clause in the
termination agreement under which Lycos and Ticketmaster-CitySearch will cross-promote
The Match.com deal is a clear sign that Barry Diller, the
USA chairman, is not backing away from his Internet strategy. Many observers have not
ruled out a second try at Lycos if the search engine's share price goes south. One
analyst, speaking on the condition of anonymity, also speculated that Diller might shift
his focus to "mid-cap portals."