Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Microsoft buys Fast search and transfer, by Even Aas-Eng

It’s not very often that Norway is the centre of events in the digital world but yesterday there was an exception.
Trading in Fast was stopped on Tuesday and something big was obviously about to happen. On Wednesday morning the news broke.

For those who doesn’t know Fast I will give a quick intro. Fast is (or was) a Norwegian software company who has specialized in search technology. Enterprise search has been their core business but they have also created other interesting solutions. I will get back to that later. The company sprung out around a tech school in the city of Trondheim. Norway actually has a search technology hub in that city, besides Fast both Google and Yahoo has engineering offices there.

In statements made by Microsoft regarding the acquisition they say that they bought Fast because of their technology and their standing in the enterprise search market. I am sure that is true but I also think that there is a reason beside this that have more to do with media then with technology.

Early in 2007 Fast launched a product called Fast Ad momentum. This product resembles Googles adsense technology, it’s a long tail tool that makes it possible to commercialize your total inventory. It’s perfect for companies like Schibsted that has many websites and search engines but no technology for automated ad sales. Since there are a number of big media companies around the world that are desperate to copy Googles success but they are dead scared of cooperation with Google the ad momentum product could be an interesting one indeed. It was at least the reason that I bought Fast shares!

Microsoft is also a company that is increasingly becoming a media player and they have not been very successful in trying to match Google. I would not be surprised if Microsoft will use the Fast ad momentum to get some momentum of their own!

For other media companies Fast is now history as an independent software maker, so I guess its time to by stock in other companies with the same competence. Did anyone say autonomy?

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