Barry Diller says Google could face antitrust issues if it tilts away from search neutrality as it develops its vertical businesses.
The statements by Diller, who is chairman and senior executive of Expedia Inc. and chairman and CEO of IAC, come as the U.S. Dept. of Justice is reviewing Google's pending acquisition of ITA Software amidst concerns that Google could manipulate search results in favor of its in-house flight search and shopping business.
Diller's interview, which took place at the TechCrunch Disrupt Conference in San Francisco, occurred as the DOJ and the Texas attorney general are engaged in a wider look at Google's business practices.
Diller previously has spoken about what he perceives as the dangers of the Google-ITA Software deal.
But, in the TechCrunch interview, Diller seems to hint that Google's efforts to develop its vertical businesses may not be mature enough to spur regulatory intervention at this juncture.
Diller says it would raise antitrust issues if "any search engine" skewed results toward its own businesses.
"And, at some point, that will be dealt with if it has reached the stage where it's deserving of being dealt with," Diller says.
Perhaps Diller believes that we haven't reached that stage yet.
Diller adds: "Absolutely, I want search to remain as neutral as possible because my companies fill lots of those verticals. I don't want them infringed upon by the search mechanism ..."
With Expedia and IAC, Diller has a vested interest in search neutrality -- as do many other travel businesses concerned about Google's power and the pending ITA Software deal.