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Rock Holdings To Buy Dictionary.com, Thesaurus.com From IAC/InterActiveCorp

A kerfuffle in content: Legacy vernacular-based internet domain procured by Detroit-based mortgage lender.

If you’re feeling flummoxed and conjecturing, “what does all of this gobbledygook mean?” There’s a website for you.

IAC/InterActiveCorp (NASDAQ: IAC)’s Dictionary.com and Thesaurus.com are set to become a part of Detroit-based Rock Holdings, parent company of Quicken Loans. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Investing In Words

A theme for the acquisition can be seen in Quicken Loans' heavy investment in the 2016 launch of Rocket Mortgage, the first fully digital mortgage experience, designed to make consumers lives easier.

So why Dictionary.com?

“Over the past two decades, these ‘raw materials’ of language are, in essence, not only the ‘vessels’ of all communication, but at the same time they are also becoming the currency of the digital age,” Dan Gilbert, founder of Rock Holdings and Quicken Loans, said in a press release.

In the age of Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL) answering user queries in traditional search and voice search, the Rock Holdings team hopes to replicate the success of other digital ventures.

Detroit-based StockX, a stock exchange for consumer goods, recently raised million from Google Ventures and is averaging over $2 million of daily transaction value since its 2016 launch. Gilbert in 2014 led a $40 million equity investment in Genius.com, a crowdsourced music encyclopedia that now boasts over 100 million monthly visitors.

IAC's Acquisitive Nature

IAC in March hired investment bank Allen & Co. to explore a sale of Dictionary.com. The company addressed those plans to sell the website along with Electus in its third-quarter shareholder letter; Electus is IAC's TV production company.

“Neither business was a focus for IAC’s future, so we thought them better held in more enthusiastic hands,” IAC said in the Nov. 7 letter. “$130 million of cash in the bank will be much easier to value and can now be used to fund ambitions elsewhere.”

This deal follows IAC’s recent acquisition of Angie’s List for $500 million and sale of ShoeBuy for $70 million. In 2015, IAC sold part of its stake in Match Group (NASDAQ: MTCH), parent company of Tinder and Match.com, in a $400 million initial public offering.

IAC subsequently combined Angie’s List with HomeAdvisor to spin out ANGI Homeservices (NASDAQ: ANGI), of which IAC is a majority stakeholder.

Investing In Detroit

The acquisition comes just one day after Gilbert’s Jack Entertainment LLC sold Detroit’s Greektown Casino-Hotel for billion.

"It frees up significant capital to invest in our large developments that we've started and some are about to start soon," Gilbert told the Detroit Free Press. "We're going to focus on business development and technology, startup scene in Detroit and things like StockX and other exciting businesses that will create jobs and excitement and attract people to the city from all over.”

Gilbert sees the potential for increased earnings for Dictionary.com and Thesaurus.com in addition to opportunities to add to Quicken Loans’ “For-More-Than-Profit Detroit Impact” initiative. The midwest giant adopted practices that support the idea of a “different kind of capitalism, where ‘Doing Well’ and ‘Doing Good’ aren’t mutually exclusive.”

Quicken Loans’ endeavor “to invest in the quality of life of citizens on every level” has created a statewide economic impact of $17.8 billion between 2010 and 2017, according to the company.

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