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March 2, 1999


By CBR Staff Writer

Barry Diller, CEO of USA Networks Inc, says he will not renegotiate the complicated deal to acquire Lycos Inc, despite the misgivings of some of the shareholders. The deal hit trouble when Lycos’ stock price fell on the news of the acquisition on February 8 and Lycos’ largest shareholder, CMG Information Services Inc said a few days later that it would still probably vote in favor but that it reserves the right to reassess its position as developments unfold. Diller took the blame for the confusion, saying we should have more carefully explained the transaction. Diller was addressing the Jupiter Communications Consumer Online Forum in New York yesterday in the manner of a grandfather advising his grandchildren about the pitfalls that may befall them in life. Speed isn’t everything, he told the packed hall of twenty- and thirty-something media types. He said too many on the web confuse speed with process, and process is the actual work that must be undertaken. He likened it to web publishers who think we don’t need editors, we run spell-check. He mocked those that mocked his Home Shopping Network (HSN) as a purveyor of down-market goods and therefore incompatible with the Lycos user base. He claimed that the company recently sold $23m worth of computers in one day – not rings, honey, said Diller. Diller said USA Networks needed Lycos to get it a national reach in the US and he liked the fact that it is in Boston, Massachusetts, not Silicon valley. Moreover, he predicted that advertising is in a long, slow arc of change towards direct selling and that the old laws of selling will always win over time. And of course direct selling is just what HSN and his Ticketmaster-CitySearch unit does already. However, he advised the gathering, only somewhat sarcastically, that it’s generally a good idea to sell goods at more than you pay for them.

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