That’s how Barry Diller described the current state of the world in an interview with CNBC Thursday.
Diller sits in a unique position amid the COVID-19 crisis, leading one of the world’s largest travel companies as Expedia’s chairman while also overseeing internet and media giant IAC. Here’s a quick recap of the interview:
On travel: Diller, who recently took over day-to-day operations at Expedia, acquired the travel giant right around 9/11. He believed that the travel industry would go back to normal relatively quickly, which it did. He thinks the COVID-19 pandemic is a different beast. “What I said then was that if there’s life, there’s travel,” Diller said. “I still do believe that, but this is not going to be what happened then … at best, we’ll have kind of a rolling way out.” Diller doesn’t expect normalcy until at least the fall.
On Expedia: The Seattle-based company saw its stock price fall more than 50% last month amid the outbreak and travel restrictions around the globe. RBC said last month that Expedia is one of the “most at-risk names in terms of exposure to COVID-19.” Given the reduced activity, Diller said employees are spending “truly quality time” working on projects they weren’t able to address while keeping up with growth. Expedia laid off 12% of its workforce in February before the novel coronavirus outbreak.
On advertising: Diller said Expedia will slash its advertising budget by 80% or more. “We won’t spend $1 billion in advertising probably this year,” he said. The pandemic has curbed ad spending across various industries, impacting companies including Google and Facebook.
“You’ve got to bail everyone out,” says Barry Diller. pic.twitter.com/c1prKGyQH5
— Squawk Box (@SquawkCNBC) April 16, 2020
On bailouts: Diller said the bailouts of airlines are “necessary, full stop.” He said the damage being done each day is “enormous.” “Everybody needs to be bailed out of this one-time thing, and we’ll worry about paying the bills later,” he said.
On investing: Is Diller looking at opportunities to invest over the next several months, despite the economic crisis? “Oh my God, yes,” he said. “Of course there is opportunity. You just have to have a very long view.” He said IAC is looking at some potential “very large” acquisitions.