Barry Diller, who over 14 years parlayed a revival of HSN into a business empire that made him a billionaire, has stepped down as chief executive of IAC/Interactive Corp., the conglomerate he built using the St. Petersburg TV shopping network as the foundation.
Diller, 68, cast HSN off on its own two years ago. Diller had controlled IAC through a now-unraveled partnership with media titan John Malone, chairman of Liberty Media, which remains HSN's largest shareholder.
A Hollywood mogul who headed programming at ABC in his 20s, Paramount Pictures in his 30s and Fox in his 40s, Diller made his real fortune buying and selling dozens of Internet companies at IAC.
Now married to fashion designer Dianne von Furstenberg, who introduced him to the TV shopping business, Diller has since been rated one of the most richly compensated CEOs in the country with access to a $45 million corporate jet and a 300-foot yacht, Eos, which is touted as the world's largest sailing vessel.
Diller got an itch for yachting from a suite overlooking the marina at the Renaissance Vinoy Resort in St. Petersburg. That's where he lived temporarily after taking over HSN — until moving into a $5 million yacht.
After a $220 million cash sale revealed Thursday, Diller will hold a third of the shares in IAC and remain chairman. But Malone sold the last of his 60 percent majority voting shares in the company that Diller had controlled since 1995. Malone's Liberty also got IAC'S Web businesses Evite and Gifts.com in the transaction.
Greg Blatt, who had been chief executive of IAC's Match.com, an Internet dating service, takes Diller's place.
Mark Albright can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8252.