The rumors of last June that Microsoft was shopping around its Razorfish interactive ad agency that they had acquired with aQuantive were apparently correct as today Microsoft and Publicis announced that the latter is acquiring Razorfish for $530 million:
Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s Chief Executive Officer, said, "We are grateful for the contributions Razorfish has made to our online advertising business since joining the company as a part of the aQuantive acquisition in 2007, and are pleased that they have found a new long-term home with Publicis Groupe. We look forward to continuing to work with Razorfish as one of our agencies, and we’re confident that as a part of Publicis Groupe, Razorfish will build on its success to date in the digital advertising industry."
There are various theories as to why Microsoft wished to divest themselves of Razorfish, but the "continuing to work with Razorfish as one of our agencies" rings true to me. Microsoft did not want want its ability to sell online ads to all ad agencies to be hindered by owning one themselves. The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2009.