Microsoft finally took the plunge today and announced the pending acquisition of advertising giant aQuantive based out of Seattle for a cool $6 billion; an eighty-five percent premium over the shares on Thursday.

Here are some great articles on the subject:

  • Todd Bishop of the Seattle Post Intelligencer has covered this subject religiously and offers a play-by-play of the acquisition
  • Microsoft’s aQuantive acquisition press release

So Who is aQuantive?
Here is a snippet from the Microsoft press release:

Founded in 1997, aQuantive, Inc. (NASDAQ: AQNT) is the parent company of one of the industry’s most successful families of digital marketing service and technology companies, encompassing three primary brands.

>> Atlas provides a set of advanced tools for both advertisers and publishers. The Atlas Media Console is an industry-leading toolset providing agencies and advertisers with capabilities to maximize ROI. The Atlas Publisher platform enables publishers to maximize monetization opportunities for their content.

>> DRIVEpm provides services to publishers and advertisers that match advertiser campaigns with publisher inventory enabling all parties to maximize ROI.

>> Avenue A | Razorfish is one of the largest interactive ad agencies in the world, providing advertisers with industry-leading digital marketing consultation, media planning and buying, and creative services that help advertisers use the online channel to build meaningful, profitable relationships with their customers.

Acquisition In Review
Microsoft just paid way more than the company was worth to seal the deal. Articles I have read on the subject all believe it was a “get it over with” arrangement and I agree that little else can be surmised from this purchase; I can smell the fear over at Microsoft from little old Victoria British Columbia.

Obviously Microsoft was getting tired of losing out on good deals; losing DoubleClick to Google must have been a ego-squashing moment. With 24/7 Real Media now unavailable, the aQuantive buy must have been even more compelling (85% more compelling). In my opinion it was a very over-priced deal but at least aQuantive is an uncontested leader in the online advertising industry so Microsoft should be happy in the end.

One thing is for certain, Nick Hanauer, the founder of aQuantive and current chairman of the board is bound to be a happy man since he is set to make a dazzling $290 million.