Just yesterday I was bemoaning the fact that Microsoft kept getting left at the altar in the Internet ad business consolidation that’s currently going on, but all that changed today as Microsoft raided its piggy bank for $6 billion in cash in order to acquire aQuantive Inc. at roughly twice its current market cap in what is Microsoft’s largest ever acquisition.
Such a premium leads to considerations that Microsoft overpaid but that of course depends on what aQuantive brings to the partnership and how well it fits in with the Microsoft family. This first part is more easily answered as aQuantive has three moderately well known brands for its services:
How well these fit into the Microsoft family is a different question, but they seem fairly complementary for Microsoft in both its role as a content publisher and as an online advertising service as they “will be able to better monetize Microsoft inventory, and will now be able to sell display ads on third party sites.”
As far as the people go, aQuantive is conveniently headquartered in Seattle and Brian McAndrews, CEO of aQuantive, will be reporting directly to Kevin Johnson, the president of Microsoft’s Platforms & Services Division so that for the moment they will have some protection from the inevitable jostling with the MSN Digital Advertising Solutions crew. In fact, Microsoft has been an aQuantive customer in the past so the meld may be easier than one might expect.