(Microsoft officials aren't commenting on the MSN.com job cuts beyond what company officials told The Seattle Times, a spokesperson said.)
The cuts follow a recent Business Insider story that claimed, earlier this year, Microsoft unsuccessfully attempted to sell MSN.com to Yahoo in exchange for Yahoo's search business. Even before this week's job cuts, that report had me wondering whether Microsoft might be seeking to sell off MSN.com.
The game plan, a year ago, was for Microsoft to field, at some point, MSN apps for Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. Microsoft already offers a Windows 8 Bing News app. Officials said that Bing News was designed to be an aggregated news source, while the MSN portal is meant to deliver content, but also highlight and demonstrate other Microsoft technologies, like Bing search, Skype, Outlook.com, etc.
MSN has gone through various positioning changes over the years. Before Microsoft decided to focus on MSN as one of its major vehicles for consumer outreach, advertising and search, Microsoft almost decided to exit the portal business completely. In 2008, Microsoft made MSN part of the combined Search, Portal and Advertising Group. In an e-mail to employees, Satya Nadella (who was then Senior Vice President of R&D for Online Services) said MSN was Microsoft’s single largest source of ad revenue.