NYC businesses won’t survive coronavirus lockdowns, local destruction: IAC’s Barry Diller

The state of New York City is ‘devastating’: Barry Diller

IAC Chairman Barry Diller on state of New York City, economic recovery, and the TikTok-Oracle deal.

“New York is a weird place to be around” during the coronavirus pandemic, IAC chairman Barry Diller told FOX Business' Maria Bartiromo on “Mornings with Maria” on Thursday.

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“It’s devastating because you just drive anywhere, walk anywhere and you see local destruction,” he added.

Diller also noted that “it is almost impossible” for businesses to survive in New York City following the coronavirus closures and the violence sparked by protests after the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died in Minneapolis police custody.

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During the unrest over the summer, looters broke into New York City stores, stole merchandise and caused destruction. 

IAC, which owns media and Internet brands, is headquartered in New York City. Diller told host Maria Bartiromo that on Labor Day, when the company’s headquarters was reopened, the 750 employees were given the option to come back to the building and only about 5% returned to the office.

“Truthfully, no one comes,” Diller said. 

“If you give people the choice, generally, they’re going to say, ‘No. If I’m getting full pay, I am working at home doing whatever I want,’” he added. “What could be better? So that’s true for all offices in New York.”

Diller went on to say that “New York’s not going to get back again until we get clear signals that you can go about without taking these extreme precautions.”

“We’ve got to get Broadway back,” he continued. “Broadway supports [a] huge amount of small businesses and all sorts of derivatives that are just idle.”

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He went on to say that “so much of the city” is currently idle and “it is not sustainable.”

“It can’t go on for nine months, which is one of the predictions, is that you won’t get theater back, Broadway back for one year from today,” Diller said. “That’s devastating.”

Diller stressed that “New York needs a plot.”

“Thank God schools are starting again, but will they stay open?” he asked.

“Every day it’s just kind of a drip drive of various scares that is just inhibiting life and at a point, [we] got to get used to where we are, but we’ve got to get used to the risks, and we’ve got to take some risks, particularly people who are not vulnerable and get back to full life.”

Diller, who serves as Expedia Group chairman, is also behind business including the video platform Vimeo, Internet services company Angie's List and the dating website Match.com.

On Thursday, Bartiromo referenced his segments and noted that Diller has a “good vantage point” in terms of what he is seeing with the economy.

She then asked, “How would you characterize things?”

In response, Diller noted that his businesses reflect “the economy at large.”

He explained that during the pandemic on some sides his businesses are performing very well and on “some sides it’s not good.”

"That’s this unsteady world I live in,” he said.

“We do have, with home services with Angie and with dating, with Match, and with Vimeo, obviously right now everything is great, subscriptions are up,” Diller went on to explain, adding that the reasons are obvious.

“People are at home, they want to fix things, they call Angie, HomeAdvisor, to get things done,” Diller said. He added that in order to date people are communicating through the Match products, which he said is “necessary right now.”

“Same is true for Vimeo,” he continued, noting “the good side” of his businesses.

He went on to explain that “the bad side” includes travel and Expedia.

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“We were down, of course, about 95% when this began, when the real lockdown was in place in the U.S.,” Diller said. He went on to say that for the last 10 weeks, his travel-related business has been done minus 62%.

“That isn’t good,” Diller said. “It’s just relatively good, better than it was and actually we just had our first cash positive month so if that holds, it’s not profitable for us, we lose money at that.”

Diller went on to explain that nothing will “substantially” change “until probably after the first of the year, until you get airlines traveling again and you get these restrictions lifted.”

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