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  • Dec. 4, 2014, 9:49 AM
    • Along with its FQ2 results, Barnes & Noble (BKS -11.4%) has announced it's buying Microsoft's (MSFT +1.6%) stake in Nook Media for $62.4M in cash and 2.7M shares (current value of $52.8M). The companies have also "agreed to terminate their commercial agreement." (8-K)
    • With Microsoft having invested $300M in Nook Media (contains B&N's Nook hardware, online bookstore, e-book, and college bookstore ops) in 2012 for a 17.6% stake, the software giant is taking a ~$185M loss on its investment.
    • B&N's Nook segment revenue (covers hardware, digital content, and accessories) fell 41.3% Y/Y in FQ2 to just $62M, thanks to tough competition from Amazon and ongoing tablet cannibalization of e-readers. B&N's college segment saw revenue rise 1.9% to $751M.
    • The sale follows Microsoft's July decision to lay off roughly half the workers in its Nokia phone unit, as part of a broader restructuring.
    | Dec. 4, 2014, 9:49 AM | 9 Comments
  • Dec. 1, 2014, 11:18 AM
    • Acompli provides popular Android/iOS e-mail apps that support a variety of e-mail (Microsoft Exchange, Gmail, and cloud productivity (Office 365, iCloud, Google Apps) platforms. Re/code reports hearing Microsoft (MSFT +1.1%) is paying $200M+ to buy the startup.
    • "Acompli is the powerhouse email app for iPhone that Outlook users have been waiting for," The Verge declared in an April review. The app's integrated calendar and ability to provide quick access to recently-viewed files/attachments and important contacts received high marks. "Taken together, Acompli’s design encourages you to start thinking of your iPhone as a workstation in its own right."
    • Microsoft: "In a world where more than half of email messages are first read on a mobile device, it’s essential to give people fantastic email experiences wherever they go ... We’re excited about what’s possible as we build on [Acompli's] success and bring it together with work currently in progress by the Outlook team."
    • A recent unfinished blog post from a Microsoft VP suggested a deal would soon be announced. The purchase adds to a multi-platform push that has seen the release of free iPad Office apps and an Office/Dropbox integration deal.
    | Dec. 1, 2014, 11:18 AM | 1 Comment
  • Nov. 13, 2014, 8:37 AM
    • The WSJ reports Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) has reached a deal to buy Israeli cybersecurity/identity-protection software firm Aorato for ~$200M, and plans to announce it today. The paper reported in July a deal was close.
    • Aorato's products complement Microsoft's Active Directory enterprise authentication/ID-management software service, since they analyze Active Directory interactions to create user profiles and detect suspicious activity. There could also be synergies with the cloud-based Azure Active Directory service.
    • In its latest effort to grow its developer base (previous) and support rival platforms, Microsoft is open-sourcing the server stack for its.NET software framework (underpins many Windows apps), and allowing developers to write server/cloud-based .NET apps for Linux and Mac OS. The move could help .NET better compete against alternatives such as Ruby on Rails and PHP.
    • Microsoft has also: 1) Launched a free version of its mainstay Visual Studio 2013 app development suite for non-enterprise users. 2) Previewed Visual Studio 2015, which the company says is "built from the ground up with support for iOS, Android and Windows."
    • Microsoft says it will "shortly" reach 10M Xbox One sales, and that sales have tripled since a $50 price cut went into effect on Nov. 2. The latest figures still leaves the One's total sales behind the 13.5M seen by the PS4 as of the end of Q3.
    • The pickup in Xbox One sales is a positive for CPU/GPU supplier AMD, which was estimated by IHS last year to receive $110 per unit.
    • Update: Microsoft has confirmed the Aorato acquisition. "We are making this acquisition to give customers a new level of protection against threats through better visibility into their identity infrastructure."
    | Nov. 13, 2014, 8:37 AM | 11 Comments
  • Oct. 7, 2014, 5:38 PM
    • Bloomberg and the WSJ report Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) has signed a letter of intent to buy Equivio, an Israeli developer of text-analysis software used for corporate/legal e-discovery and information governance applications. The WSJ reports the price is around $200M.
    • Equivio's software relies on machine learning algorithms to analyze and group together documents. Potential use cases include grouping near-duplicates, reconstructing e-mail threads, and data mining. Clients include the DOJ, the FTC, KPMG, Deloitte, and many law firms.
    • Like Google and Facebook, Microsoft has already shown a keen interest in machine learning; an Azure machine learning service that provides predictive analytics is currently in beta. In addition to enterprise apps/services, the technology is leveraged by consumer-facing Microsoft products such as Bing, Cortana, and the Xbox/Kinect.
    | Oct. 7, 2014, 5:38 PM | 4 Comments
  • Sep. 15, 2014, 9:39 AM
    • Microsoft (MSFT -0.2%) has reached an agreement to buy Mojang, and the company’s iconic Minecraft franchise for $2.5B.
    • The acquisition marks the largest purchase ever for chief executive Satya Nadella, who says the purchase "is more than a great game franchise - it is an open world platform, driven by a vibrant community...with new opportunities for that community and for Microsoft."
    • Microsoft expects the acquisition to be break-even in FY15 on a GAAP basis. The acquisition is expected to close in late 2014.
    | Sep. 15, 2014, 9:39 AM | 15 Comments
  • Sep. 10, 2014, 7:47 AM
    • The $2B price tag that Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) is reportedly willing to swallow for Minecraft maker Mojang is on par with other large video games deals, although not all have panned out.
    • Analyst take: Cowen calls Minecraft one of the great gaming success stories of the last ten years, while some tech analysts warn the franchise has lost some momentum and could be hard to recharge.
    • Sources have indicated that Microsoft will use overseas cash to pay for the acquisition to lighten its tax obligation.
    • MSFT +0.5% premarket
    | Sep. 10, 2014, 7:47 AM | 3 Comments
  • Sep. 9, 2014, 6:26 PM
    • Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) is in "serious discussions" to buy Mojang AB -- the maker of popular world-building game Minecraft -- in a deal valued at more than $2B, a source tells The Wall Street Journal.
    • A deal could come as early as this week, and would be the first truly major acquisition for CEO Satya Nadella since he took the job in February.
    • Mojang has sold more than 50M copies of the game since its 2009 release but has shunned big corporations -- and, particularly, Microsoft specifically.
    • MSFT +0.2% after hours.
    | Sep. 9, 2014, 6:26 PM | 9 Comments
  • Jul. 11, 2014, 6:28 PM
    • "We viewed [Satya Nadella's] letter yesterday to employees as putting everyone on notice that he wants to make organizational changes," writes Nomura's Rick Sherlund after taking in Nadella's missive.
    • Sherlund thinks Microsoft (MSFT +1%) might shed 5%-10% of the ~125K employees working for either Microsoft proper or Nokia's phone unit. He estimates cutting a quarter of the 25K-strong Nokia workforce would "eliminate about $1.0b of cost structure."
    • Meanwhile, others have honed in on Nadella's productivity emphasis, and his attempts to distance himself from Steve Ballmer's "devices & services" mantra. Harry McCracken: "The new vision ... feels less like it’s reacting to the changes to the industry which Apple has wrought by imitating them: Apple is never, ever going to have a mission statement which leads with the word 'productivity.'"
    • CITEworld, for its part, likes Nadella's remarks about making heavy use of data to drive product decision-making.
    • In an interview with The Verge, Nadella rejects traditional distinctions between enterprise and consumer markets. "Any thinking consumer should consider Microsoft because guess what, you're not just a consumer. You're also going to go to work, you're also going to be productive and we can do a better job for you in there"
    • Microsoft has acquired InMage, a provider of disaster recovery/failover hardware and software for businesses and service providers. The company plans to integrate InMage's technology, which captures data changes in real-time, with Azure's recently-launched Site Recovery service.
    | Jul. 11, 2014, 6:28 PM | 4 Comments
  • Apr. 21, 2014, 10:40 AM
    • Microsoft's (MSFT -0.5%) acquisition of Nokia's (NOK -0.1%) Devices & Services unit will close on April 25.
    • Three changes have been made to the original deal: 1) Microsoft won't acquire Nokia's Korean manufacturing facility. 2) Microsoft will "manage" and Nokia social media sites for up to a year. 3) 21 Chinese employees of Nokia's Chief Technology Office will join Microsoft.
    • Chinese government approval (provided two weeks ago) ended the last major regulatory hurdle for the deal, which was originally set to close in March. Nokia stands to reap a $7.5B cash windfall that it might direct towards a mixture of acquisitions - the company has said it's focusing on smaller deals - and capital returns.
    • Microsoft, meanwhile, will have to get to work on turning around a business that posted a 29% Y/Y sales drop and a -7.3% non-IFRS op. margin in Q4, in large part due to plunging feature phone sales.
    | Apr. 21, 2014, 10:40 AM | 42 Comments
  • Feb. 25, 2014, 12:31 PM
    • Orange (ORAN +0.1%) has confirmed it's talking to Microsoft (MSFT -0.3%) about a partnership revolving around video site/would-be YouTube rival Dailymotion. The French carrier, which has been looking for international partners to grow Dailymotion's reach, says it will hold onto its majority stake in the site in the event of a deal.
    • Last year, the French government blocked Orange from selling Dailymotion to Yahoo. Though Microsoft's Bing contains a video site, it doesn't currently support uploads.
    • Earlier: Microsoft reassigns Larson-Green to make room for Elop
    | Feb. 25, 2014, 12:31 PM
  • Feb. 12, 2014, 10:55 AM
    • By imposing conditions Nokia (NOK -2.6%) deems to be "unacceptable," an Indian court has halted the transfer of Nokia's massive Chennai phone manufacturing plant (employs 30K people) to Microsoft (MSFT +0.9%), and in doing so has further stalled the sale of the former's phone unit to the latter.
    • The halt is tied to Nokia's ongoing $1.1B tax dispute with the Indian government. Nokia has responded by appealing to India's Supreme Court. In the meantime, chairman Risto Siilasmaa is meeting with government figures in an attempt to find a resolution.
    • Nokia, whose shares are selling off today, once more suggests (previous) its Indian manufacturing ops could be moved elsewhere on account of the dispute. "It seems that working with the tax authorities here in India can be very hard and unpredictable, which is clearly not good for businesses."
    • Previous: Indian court lifts freeze on Nokia factory
    • Update: Nokia says it doesn't expect the tax dispute to stop the Microsoft deal from closing in Q1.
    | Feb. 12, 2014, 10:55 AM | 70 Comments
  • Jan. 6, 2014, 6:03 PM
    • Sources tell the WSJ Microsoft (MSFT) has acquired Parature, developer of a cloud-based customer support software platform. No word on deal terms. (PR)
    • Parature's platform includes tools for interacting with customers via live chat, e-mail, social media, a self-service knowledgebase, and mobile apps, and complements Microsoft's SMB-focused Dynamics CRM software. Microsoft already has a partnership with Parature related to Dynamics.
    • Dynamics CRM has seen healthy growth in recent years, but also faces intensifying competition from Salesforce (CRM), SugarCRM, and other cloud software firms.
    • Salesforce has seen healthy uptake for its Service Cloud customer support platform. Oracle bought RightNow, another industry player, for $1.5B in 2011.
    | Jan. 6, 2014, 6:03 PM
  • Dec. 12, 2013, 7:00 AM
    • An Indian court has agreed to unfreeze a phone-making factory owned by Nokia (NOK) so that it can complete the sale of its handset unit to Microsoft (MSFT).
    • Authorities seized the plant following a tax dispute. Nokia will deposit 22.50B rupees ($367.17M) in an escrow account as a condition for lifting the freeze and transferring the factory to Microsoft.
    • The tax case will continue separately. If Nokia loses, it could face a bill of up to $3.4B.
    | Dec. 12, 2013, 7:00 AM | 26 Comments
  • Nov. 19, 2013, 8:45 AM
    • An era officially ends: Nokia (NOK) shareholders have signed off on the sale of its Devices & Services unit to Microsoft (MSFT). 99.7% of shareholder votes were cast in favor - not surprising, considering the effect news of the deal had on Nokia's shares.
    • While Dan Loeb wants Nokia to return much of $7.36B it's set to receive from the unit sale and a related IP licensing deal to shareholders, many expect Nokia to use a chunk of the cash to go acquisition-hunting.
    • Microsoft, meanwhile, now has to focus its attention on growing Windows Phone's smartphone share from a Q3 level of 3.6% (per IDC), and profiting from a business that still has plenty of exposure to a rapidly declining feature phone market. Nomura recently forecast feature phone weakness would lead the Nokia unit to dilute Microsoft's EPS into FY15.
    • The Microsoft-Nokia deal: I, II, III
    | Nov. 19, 2013, 8:45 AM | 30 Comments
  • Oct. 23, 2013, 2:50 PM
    • Microsoft (MSFT -1.7%) has acquired Apiphany, provider of a platform that helps Web/cloud developers develop and manage the APIs they offer for third-party apps/services. Terms are undisclosed.
    • Apiphany's offerings will be rebranded and offered to developers using Windows Azure's cloud app development (PaaS) platform.  Microsoft observes "cloud computing has rapidly accelerated the use cases for extensibility," which in turn has "increased the value of the APIs."
    • Interest in API management services has been picking up lately, thanks in no small part to growing cloud app development. In April, Intel and CA respectively bought API management firms Mashery and Layer 7.
    | Oct. 23, 2013, 2:50 PM
  • Sep. 4, 2013, 4:10 PM
    • Sources tell the WSJ  BlackBerry (BBRY +5.9%) is " aiming to run a fast auction process that could be wrapped up by November." The report led shares to spike just before the close.
    • Meanwhile, sources tell Bloomberg Microsoft (MSFT -2.2%) is "keeping an eye" on BlackBerry in the wake of the Nokia deal. Given Microsoft's commitment to Windows Phone, any interest in BlackBerry from the software giant could be related to the company's BES/network operations center assets rather than its hardware ops.
    • The reports come as analysts continue to cut estimates. BlueFin Research says its checks indicate there have been major BB10 production cuts, and that BlackBerry has "amassed significant component and finished goods internal inventories, while many carriers and retailers are not restocking."
    | Sep. 4, 2013, 4:10 PM | 32 Comments