Monday, September 01, 2008

Microsoft Says "Ciao!" to Greenfield Online

Microsoft (MSFT-$27.29) said Friday that it had reached a deal to acquire Greenfield Online (SRVY-$17.35), operator of the Ciao! shopping and price comparison sites, for $486 million, or $17.50 a share.

Two factors in Microsoft's decision to acquire Greenfield were management's belief that Ciao online platforms offered a flexible springboard from which to gain some market share in the U.S. search engine market against Google and to launch its proprietary Live Search footprint in Europe, according to
a regulatory filing made with the SEC on August 29.

The software giant continues to struggle in the search engine business, with its
U.S. search market share declining 340 basis points year-on-year to 8.9 percent, compared with an increase of 620 basis points year-on-year to 61.9% at Google, according to comScore data.

Ciao offers one of Europe's leading online price comparison, shopping, and consumer review solutions. The company
operates portals in seven European countries and the U.S, with a combined 26.5 million unique visitors per month, according to comScore.

Greenfield derives revenue from its Ciao comparison-shopping portals (from Internet traffic generated via e-commerce, merchant referrals, click-throughs, and advertising sales) and its Internet Survey Solutions segment (selling respondent data to marketing research clients).

Microsoft has agreed to sell the Internet survey business of Greenfield to an unidentified financial buyer.

Editor David J Phillips does not hold a financial interest in any stocks mentioned in this article. The 10Q Detective has a Full Disclosure Policy.

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