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March 18, 2006

Microsoft acquires remote sensing firm, Vexcel

Posted by David Hunter at 7:06 PM ET. spotted this story earlier in the week in a posting on a Microsoft weblog and now Mary Jo Foley at Microsoft Watch has rounded up the details. Matt Branaugh at the Boulder, Colorado Daily Camera:

Microsoft Corp. is in the process of acquiring Boulder-based remote-sensing company Vexcel Corp. for an undisclosed sum.

“The acquisition is part of Microsoft’s exciting vision to deliver a dynamic … digital representation of the real world that provides the best local search and mapping experience to consumers, businesses and government,” said Jerry Skaw, Vexcel’s marketing communications manager.

Regulatory approvals in the United States, Germany and Italy are pending, so Skaw declined to comment on details of the transaction, including a sales price or any anticipated changes to Vexcel’s employee count.

But Vexcel’s operation will remain in Boulder, he said. He wouldn’t say whether the site would adopt the Microsoft name.

Vexcel now employs about 70 people at 1690 38th St. and another 60 people at offices in Canada, Austria, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

The 21-year-old, privately held company’s specialties include synthetic aperture radar processing, remote-sensing ground stations, photogrammetry, aerial mapping and geographic information systems and services.

Vexcel’s flagship product is UltraCam, a large-format digital aerial camera.

Looking at the Vexcel web site, there is a large hardware component which is an odd match for Microsoft. Presumably the real interest is in their mapping service for use in Virtual Earth / Windows Live Local.

Update 3/20: Microsoft confirms but offers few details.

Update 5/4: Microsoft press release:

Microsoft Corp. today announced it has acquired Vexcel Corp., a worldwide leader in photogrammetry, imagery and remote sensing technologies. Financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed.

This deal, the second in the past six months for Microsoft’s Virtual Earth business unit, was done to enhance the talent, technologies, products and services dedicated to fulfilling Microsoft’s broad vision for best-of-breed local search and mapping solutions for consumers, businesses and government.

In addition, Vexcel’s current assets, including the Ultra-Cam and remote sensing technologies, will help produce the richest, most dynamic sets of imagery and data in the world, which will be integrated into Windows Live™ Local and the Virtual Earth™ platform offerings.

So it looks like for the time being Microsoft is going to continue the hardware side of the business.

Filed under Acquisitions, Live Search Maps, MSN, Microsoft, Virtual Earth, Windows Live

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