Microsoft said Friday that it will acquire Greenfield Online, which owns Ciao, a price comparison, shopping and reviews site in Europe, for $17.50 a share, or $486 million. The goal: Expand Live Search in Europe.
Greenfield Online, which also owns an Internet survey business, will be split up by Microsoft. The software giant (statement) said it will keep Ciao and sell off a Web survey business. Microsoft added that it has already found buyer for Greenfield's survey business. What's odd is that much of Greenfield's revenue came from the survey business. For the six months ended June 30, Greenfield had revenue of $66.9 million and its North American survey business accounted for $33.7 million of that sum. Ciao's comparison shopping business accounted for $22.5 million with a survey business at Ciao bringing in sales of $15.5 million. Indeed, Greenfield's ticker was "SRVY," which indicates surveys were the identity of the company. Greenfield had a profit of $1.97 million for the six months ended June 30, according to SEC filings.
Ciao has about 26.5 million unique users a month across seven countries. Microsoft said the deal is a "a further milestone investment in Europe" for the company and Ciao's technology will be integrated into Live Search.
Greenfield Online had announced a deal to be acquired by Quadrangle Group, but canceled the deal to merge with Microsoft. Greenfield Online will pay Quadrangle a $5 million breakup fee (statement).