Lexico, Dictionary.com Being Acquired By Ask.com; Price In $100 Million Range

Staci D. Kramer
Thursday, May 15, 2008; 1:07 AM

Turns out Ask.com has the answers for Lexico Publishing, the owner of Dictionary.com which earlier agreed to be acquired by Answers.com (NSDQ: ANSW) in a doomed effort. The IAC (NSDQ: IACI) subsidiary isn't disclosing the price of the all-cash transaction but, according to a source familiar with the situation, it's in the same range as the $100 million that Answers.com was supposed to pay. Ask spokesman Nicholas Graham declined to confirm the amount or to comment on the price.

The deal is expected to close in Q3. The Long Beach, Calif.-based company was founded in 1995 by Brian Kariger, CEO, and Daniel Fierro. Both will be staying on for the integration into Ask.com.

The iconic domains, which also include Thesaurus.com and Reference.com, come with a serious amount of traffic, increasing the Ask Network's traffic by 11 percent to 145 million-plus uniques. Ask claims this will make it the ninth largest web property in the world?ahead of Facebook and Apple (NSDQ: AAPL).

Ask isn't talking revenue either, but Doug Leeds, the Ask.com chief strategy officer who will run the company, told me, " It is profitable, very profitable. ... We believe it will be accretive in the first quarter that we have it." Lexico has a paid search deal with Google (NSDQ: GOOG). Leeds said Ask will layer in its own elements, like the left-hand related-search results pane, and that Dictionary.com?which gets 88 percent of its traffic from direct search?"will feel like more a part of the Ask family." Those elements will also increase the ways to make money from the site. Leeds sees opportunities like that across the sites with games, for instance: "A lot of things were done well but haven't monetized really well."

Second time's the charm?: It's the second time Lexico has agreed to be acquired in less than a year; last July, Answers Corp. said it would acquire Lexico for $100 million. But troubled Answers could never come up with the scratch to cover the costs, failing multiple times to raise the money. In the end, Lexico made $500,000 from Answers because the deal collapsed.


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