September 2, 2008

Microsoft Pays $486m for Cost-Comparison Provider Ciao

Microsoft has acquired Greenfield Online for $486m to boost its internet search and e-commerce business in Europe.

Greenfield Online is a provider of internet survey products. It operates two businesses: a cost-comparison service in Europe called Ciao that allows users to write reviews of products and vendors, and Internet Survey Solutions, which Microsoft plans to sell.

Microsoft already owns shopping site Kelkoo and shopping-and-auction site Earlier this year it acquired Norwegian enterprise search company Fast for $1.2 billion. It also offers a "cashback" search service in the US where it shares the commission paid by online merchants with its users.

According to internet research group ComScore, Ciao was the leading comparison shopping site in Europe, with 19.6 million unique visitors in July.

John Mangelaars, vice-president for consumer and online services for Microsoft in EMEA, said: "We have a good search product in the US, but we want to improve the product in EMEA. For that you need local merchants and technology tailored to European needs."