The Microsoft press release on the deal; see the link below for more details. At the moment, GOOG is up and MSFT is down, so I guess some investors don't see this as a clear and present danger development for Google. BusinessWeek indicates the deal represents an 85% premium relative to AQNT's closing price yesterday, so I'm guessing just maybe there was a bidding war...
“The advertising industry is evolving and growing at an incredible pace, moving increasingly toward online and IP-served platforms, which dramatically increases the importance of software for this industry,” said Steve Ballmer, chief executive officer of Microsoft. “Today’s announcement represents the next step in the evolution of our ad network from our initial investment in MSN, to the broader Microsoft network including Xbox Live, Windows Live and Office Live, and now to the full capacity of the Internet. Microsoft is intensely committed to creating a thriving advertising business and to partnering closely with all key constituencies in this industry to help maximize the digital advertising opportunity for all.”
The aQuantive acquisition enables Microsoft to strengthen relationships with advertisers, agencies and publishers by enhancing the Company’s world-class advertising platforms and services beyond its current capabilities to serve MSN. The acquisition also provides Microsoft increased depth in building and supporting next generation advertising solutions and environments such as cross media planning, video-on-demand and IPTV.
More related developments from the BW article referenced above:
The announcement comes just one day after WPP Group PLC, the world's second-largest advertising and marketing conglomerate, said it would buy online advertising company 24/7 Real Media Inc. for $649 million. Microsoft had been widely seen as a potential bidder for 24/7.
Last month Google Inc. agreed to buy online advertising company DoubleClick Inc. for $3.1 billion, and Yahoo Inc. struck a deal to buy the privately-held online ad exchange Right Media Inc. for $680 million. Microsoft had expressed interest in buying DoubleClick before being trumped by Google.
Source: Microsoft to Acquire aQuantive, Inc.: Company details plans to build Internet-wide advertising platform for advertisers, publishers and ad agencies.