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Microsoft Selling Assets To Uber And AOL, Wants To Focus More On Mobile

The tech giant’s two new deals come amid significant leadership departure and a renewed mission statement from the CEO.

Microsoft decision to sell a portion of search tool Bing’s assets to on-demand car service Uber while jettisoning is display ad sales to rival AOL finds all three entities looking to get back to basics and concentrate services around their respective core strengths.

For Uber, that means building up its own mapping capabilities, as it did when it acquired mapping technology pioneer deCarta earlier this year. In addition, the ride-sharing service has also long-been rumored to be competing with Facebook to purchase Nokia’s navigation system, Here. The bottom line is that Uber wants to manage its location services instead of having to rely on Google’s mapping and GPS tools.

Around 100 employees from Bing, many of whom worked on Bing’s digital mapping and image collection services, will also  be brought on with Uber to work on image collection.

While neither company has clarified exactly what “assets” are being sold, it stands to reason that Bing’s digital mapping services are the most relevant to the experience of the absorbed employees and to Uber’s general interest. unnamed

The assets most likely have to do with Bing’s 3D, street view, and aerial mapping, something that would be most relevant to Uber where users spend most of their app time staring at a map waiting for Greg in a black Toyota Camry to show up. With higher quality maps, including the possibility of street view or more detailed environments, the wait would not only be a bit more interesting, but could potentially be decreased due to the improved mapping tech.

For Microsoft, 100 employees and some tech assets is a fairly small piece of the pie to part with. For a smaller company (though still large enough to cause quite a stir in France) like Uber, this deal represents a noticeably bigger acquisition. The new mapping software along with experienced personnel to handle it is a significant gain for the company.

Passing the Ad Torch

While Microsoft’s side of the deal is relatively small, this comes on the back of another piece of the company being handed off to a third party. Microsoft also announced that they will hand over the reins of their display, mobile, and video ads to AOL.

AOL, which was bought recently by Verizon, will be taking over practically all of Microsoft’s advertising and manage all advertisements seen on Microsoft’s many products. Additionally, Bing will now become the default search engine on AOL websites.

There will be no job cuts in this deal either. Like their deal with Uber, AOL will take on over 1,200 employees from Microsoft along with the management of advertising.

The Times They Are A-Changing

Microsoft has been making a lot of big announcements recently like the recent departure of four of the top company executives. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, in a company-wide email last week, put forth a new mission statement for the company to “empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more,” laying out the plan for the next fiscal year that involves the upcoming launch of Windows 10 and the company’s growing focus on mobile devices.

While Microsoft has long been a powerhouse of advertising, Bing has long been thought of as the inferior alternative to Google. Selling off assets and employees to Bing and letting AOL take over their advertisements will significantly lighten their financial load, allowing them to focus more on the mobile and software research stressed in Nadella’s mission statement. Strengthening the relationship between Microsoft, Uber, and AOL will also help them live up to that goal of “empowering every organization on the planet.”

About The Author
Daniel Parisi Daniel Parisi @daniel_parisi_

Daniel Parisi is a New York City-based writer and recent graduate of the University of Maryland. Daniel specializes in coverage of mobile payments, loyalty programs, and the Internet of Things.