covered the acquisitions part of the Summit. He noted that Microsoft has made 22 acquisitions totaling nearly $1B over the past 12 months, compared to just 9 acquisitions the previous year. What's more, "the acquisition pace is likely to accelerate." Given that Microsoft acquisitions "typically fill in holes in our product roadmap" and are usually technology-focused rather than business-focused (i.e. revenue/profits), it's interesting to note what market segments Microsoft has been buying into. Don listed them:The Microsoft VC Summit 2006 happened a week or two ago, but I've only just had a chance to review the posts that came out of it. If you're interested in where Microsoft is headed with its product range and general Web strategy, there are some nuggets in the coverage. Don Dodge from the Microsoft Emerging Business Team
- VirtualEarth aka MapPoint - Vexcel and GeoTango do 3D imaging and remote sensing.
- MSN - DeepMetrix (web site stats), Massive (videogame advertising), Onfolio (web research), Teleo (VoIP), Media-Streams (VoIP), MotionBridge (mobile search), TSSX (China mobile services), SeaDragon (Large Image manipulation)
- Windows Live - FolderShare (file synch), MessageCast (MSN Alerts)
- Speech Server - Unveil Technologies (call center SW)
- Security - Alacris (Identity Mgmt), FutureSoft (Web filtering)
- Systems Management - AssetMetrix (License tracking)
- Business Intelligence - ProClarity (analysis and visualization)
- Microsoft Game Studios - Lionhead Studios (games developer)
- Exchange Server - FrontBridge (email security)
- Microsoft Project - UMT (Portfolio Mgmt)
- Storage Server - Stringbean Software (iSCSI SAN)
- Vista - Apptimum (Application transfer)
10 of the 22 acquisitions were for MSN and Windows Live (which can in essence be viewed as one and the same, considering content and services overlap so much these days). Also while Don notes that many of the above are consumer-facing services, a lot of consumer technologies are seeping into the enterprise market - as businesses take advantage of the hybrid, collaborative and 'best of breed' nature of web 2.0 consumer products. I also note the multi-device and multimedia nature of Microsoft's 22 acquisitions - two mobile, two VoIP acquisitions, two video gaming, three mapping/imaging, and an "Application Transfer" company.
I'm probably reading a bit much into the acquisitions, because who really knows what Microsoft has managed to build in-house and so didn't need to acquire. But if anything the acquisitions do confirm that Microsoft is very much focused on 'media' and consumer technologies, under the MSN and Live umbrellas. Steve Ballmer himself said, when adCenter was released at the beginning of May 2006, that Microsoft wants to be a media company. So the list of acquisitions sheds a little more light on that.
In other coverage of the MS VC Summit, Jeff Clavier made some excellent notes. He confirms that "Windows: The Live Software Ecosystem" is a major target of investment for Microsoft. He also noted yet another web 2.0 definition, but very appropriate for Microsoft (and Apple, Yahoo, Google for that matter): "Web 2.0 = Intelligence in all devices, and communication between all devices." Jeff had some great comments about the consumer/enterprise mashup too, including quoting Ballmer as saying that "Microsoft will deliver SN [social networking] functionality in their products for the enterprise."
EdSim also posted about the event and I particularly took note of his observation that communications and collaboration are key in Office 2007. In another post, VC Rick Segal wrote that Office 2007 will continue to be a leading software platform:
"...my suggestion to you when looking for a place to innovate and ride some of the MSFT coattail is to dig into Office, Sharepoint, Live Communications Server, and all of the developer opportunities contained within these products."
So all in all, nothing too surprising in all this. But it puts some more product context around Microsoft's well-documented move to be a 'software as a service' and media company.
Photo: nilssons -- "Bill Gates, CEO of Microsoft, throws a Windows 1.0 floppy disk in his office soon after the product's release. 1985 Bellevue, Washington, USA."