More than two years after buying advertising network aQuantive for $6 billion, Microsoft finally unloaded the digital advertising agency that came with that deal. It sold Razorfish to French advertising conglomerate Publicis Groupe for $530 million in a combination stock-and-cash transaction. The price was 1.4 times Razorfish’s 2008 sales of $380 million.
Microsoft has been shopping Razorfish around all summer. It was reportedly hoping to get $600 to $700 million, but the advertising recession didn’t help. Microsoft settled for a slight discount to that.
But at least now Microsoft is out of the people-heavy ad agency business (Razorfish has 2,000 employees), and can concentrate more on its automated search and display ad platforms. Razorfish remains one of Microsoft’s preferred ad agencies (it came up with the Bing ads). And as part of the deal, Publicis agreed to purchase both search and display ads from Microsoft on behalf of its clients.
Maybe that is where Microsoft will make up the difference between the $530 million and its original asking price.