Microsoft Acquires Euro Search Shopping Company

Last Updated Aug 29, 2008 4:55 PM EDT

Microsoft continues to try to find some way to climb back into the search engine game, nabbing European online company Greenpoint for $486 million. It 's the largest acquisition for the company since talks of a Yahoo acquisition stalled out months ago.

Interestingly, Microsoft is planning to discard the core of Greenpoint's business, online survey solutions, to an undisclosed buyer, and instead focus on Ciao, a shopper comparison site. From Forbes:

"It is pretty clear that the survey operation is not really consistent with what they're about," Brent C. Williams, an analyst for the Benchmark Co., said of Microsoft.

Microsoft's top priority in making the acquisition was to boost its search and e-commerce offerings, rather than deepen a foothold in Europe, according to Williams.

I'm not so sure it's not a move to at least gain a bit of a foothold in Europe, where Google dominates even more impressively than here in the States. Ciao pulls in a reported 26.5 million page views a month, which is nothing to sneeze at, and is aimed squarely at European consumers.

Microsoft, as I've written about before, as been casting about for different ways to up its search engine usage, including paying its users and offering advertisers Cost-Per-Action ads. While that seems to have failed to boost its search engine numbers, this acquisition is no doubt meant to add further power to Live Search. Microsoft has also acquired semantic search company Powerset in June for $100 million.