Microsoft offered $1.2 billion, a 42% premium over market valuation, for Fast Search & Transfer. Fast Search & Transfer is largely an enterprise search solution. As an example web index to showcase their technology years ago they created AllTheWeb. In early 2003 Overture bought AllTheWeb, and Fast's web search unit for $70 million cash. Yahoo bought Overture the same year for $1.63 billion.
In 2005 Fast again appeared on the web search scene when they started powering organic search results for Miva, but they do not have their own search destination. Earlier this year Fast made noise about creating an independent ad network that allowed publishers to keep the bulk of the profits, but OpenAds already exists, and I have not heard much of Fast's proposed AdMomentum after the initial hype.
Fast recently missed quarterly numbers and changed their accounting practices. They do not have a great business model compared to Google (enterprise search is nowhere near as profitable as web search). If general web search relevancy moves beyond measuring links and more toward user feedback perhaps owning Fast would help Microsoft increase their core relevancy algorithms, and enterprise relationships can probably help them cross sell web ads too.
Update: Fast is to lead the Pharos search project, which will be funded in part by European governments. If Google gets regulated out of market domination in Europe then Microsoft may have bought a key competitive piece.
Potential search plays later this year:
- IAC is only worth about $7.2 billion. Earlier this year they announced that they are planning on spinning off into 5 major companies. Perhaps when that is done Microsoft, eBay, or Amazon.com should try to buy Ask.
- Why there is no money in second tier search stocks. They are all losing marketshare and money. CNET passed on buying Looksmart for a nominal sum while purchasing FindArticles.
- Perhaps search engines will start buying more major content sites. AOL is wasting away, and what else is out there?
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