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Quicken Loans parent company Rock Holdings just bought Dictionary.com (really)

Continues acquisition streak for Rock Holdings

Rock Holdings, the parent company of Quicken Loans, is getting into the dictionary and thesaurus business. Literally.

Rock Holdings announced this week that it acquired Dictionary.com and Thesaurus.com, websites that boast approximately 540 million pageviews per month. Rock Holdings bought the websites from IAC, a tech conglomerate that owns Angie's List, HomeAdvisor, Match, Tinder, OkCupid, Vimeo, Investopedia, and other top sites

The acquisitions add to Rock Holdings’ growing empire.

Beyond Quicken Loans, Rock Holdings is also the parent company of One Reverse Mortgage; Rocket Homes, Quicken Loans Mortgage Services, a mortgage origination platform servicing community banks and credit unions; RocketLoans, the “fastest online personal loan platform in America;” Rock Connections, a strategic marketing company; and a few others.

In the last few years, Rock Holdings bought ForSaleByOwner.com, a DIY seller's site; bought LowerMyBills and ClassesUSA, two of the nation's leading online marketing service providers, and acquired the technology group and its proprietary technology platform from OpenHouse Realty.

And now, Rock Holdings owns Dictionary.com and Thesaurus.com too. But why, one might ask?

Well, the companies had a bit of fun explaining that one, digging deep into the ol’ thesaurus to expound on the deal.

“From the genesis, we admit to invariable conjecture in the unmitigated competency of online mechanization to ameliorate the total sum of completed undertakings throughout our mortal existence. Cognition and discourse are conjointly associated,” Dan Gilbert, founder and chairman of Rock Holdings, said in a verbose statement.

“Whilst the cosmos that encompass us are invariably in flux, an aphorism has perpetually prevailed – the desideratum for efficacious articulation to connote doctrine, conjecture, et al,” Gilbert added.

“Comparatively we persevere, maneuvering a terrain glutted with permutation, crystal clear communication will always be the key to success,” Gilbert continued. “In addition, 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.”

Dictionary.com and Thesaurus.com also boast sizable Twitter followings, with the two sites accounts combining to have more than 337,000 followers (330,000 of those are from Dictionary.com).

Gilbert, who’s fond of using Twitter for his business empire and his sports empire (Gilbert also owns the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers), took to Twitter to explain the decision in slightly less complex terms.

As for why the companies sold to Rock Holdings, Dictionary.com CEO Liz McMillian said that being part of Rock Holdings will allow the sites to grow even more (though to be sure I'd need to look a few of these words up).

“This is an exhilarating juncture for Dictionary.com and Thesaurus.com. We endeavor to excogitate amidst a portion of the eminent monikers in industrial science,” McMillan said in statement.

“Rock Holdings is the epicenter of a plethora of headmost enterprises in the commonwealth of cyberspace and we apperceive that considerable capability for additional ontogenesis is situated within the aforementioned alliance,” McMillian continued. “Additionally, this is a prodigious and advantageous ethology that will accouter our platforms amidst the mechanisms to endure about the preeminent perimeter of perspicacity and the junction of consumer praxes.”

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed…or as the companies put it in their release: “The stipulations of the procurement remain unavailable.”

But a little digging pegs the price of the acquisitions at approximately $100 million. Earlier this month, IAC told its shareholders that it reached agreements to sell Dictionary.com and Electus, a television production company, for a combined $130 million. 

According to a recent report from Deadline.com, Electus was acquired for $30 million. Some quick subtraction therefor places Rock Holdings' payout at approximately $100 million for the two sites.

"Neither business was a focus for IAC’s future, so we thought them better held in more enthusiastic hands," IAC said in its shareholder letter. "Plus, both businesses were previously included in a pile of assets to which the market ascribes negative value – $130 million of cash in the bank will be much easier to value and can now be used to fund ambitions elsewhere."

[Update: This article is updated with more information on how much Rock Holdings may have paid for the websites.]

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