Microsoft Acquires aQuantive for Six BILLLLLION Dollars

Ian Lurie

No one else will say it. I will: Microsoft has lost its collective mind, paying nearly twice the stock price to acquire aQuantive.

The desktop software juggernaut purchased interactive advertising company aQuantive today for $6,000,000,000. No, I did not add too many zeros.

aQuantive includes three companies: Atlas provides a set of tools for managing campaigns, page optimization and the like; DRIVEpm is an advertising network; and Avenue A/Razorfish is an interactive agency.

Clearly, the folks in Redmond are playing catch-up with Google. Google, remember, shelled out a paltry $3 billion for the ad network DoubleClick.

Here’s why Microsoft’s move is stupid:

Too late
  1. It’s too late. Microsoft is far, far behind in the online advertising world. By the time this acquisition is complete, they’ll be further behind. They should have focused inward, on building their own tools, instead. They they might have had a chance.
  2. Microsoft won’t be able to mesh, culturally, with aQuantive. This is Microsoft’s biggest deal ever. It will also be their hardest to process, thereby putting Microsoft even further behind.
  3. It’s too late.
  4. Microsoft could become the second player in the ad market without acquisition. Why exactly spent $6 billion?
  5. It’s tooooooo laaaaaatttteeee.
  6. Part of their $6 billion went to purchase Avenue A/Razorfish – an agency. An amazing agency, but they have nothing to offer Microsoft, or vice-versa.
  7. I won’t say it again.
  8. They paid far too much.

What should advertisers and marketers do? I’d say sit tight – wait to see what Google does with DoubleClick. It’ll be some time before this deal impacts Atlas or DRIVEpm. Microsoft says they’ll leave Avenue A/Razorfish alone, and I believe them.

But Microsoft doesn’t have a good history when it comes to acquiring interactive properties: When Microsoft acquired HotMail they forged it into, um, HotMail.

Google could do with DoubleClick what they did with Urchin, forging it into a free, easy-to-use tool.

If that happens, and aQuantive customers jump ship, Microsoft will be left holding a $6 billion bag full of coal…

Ian Lurie

Ian Lurie is the founder of Portent. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). Ian's recorded training for, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Ian is now an independent consultant and continues to work with the Portent team- training the agency group on all things digital. You can find him at

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  1. It’s a reactionary move. It is too late in the game, but one that Microsoft could not afford not to play. The number of Broadband users have increased by 3 million users this year. Microsoft doesn’t have the best record for letting their acquisitions maintain the level of autonomy that made them successful to begin with (ala HotMail mentioned).
    Where does this leave ValueClick? If Yahoo! is purchased by Microsoft as well, there are few goliaths left who could fund them to remain competitive.

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