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This article was published on August 29, 2008

Microsoft buys Ciao.com’s mother company, will it plug its products?

Microsoft buys Ciao.com’s mother company, will it plug its products?
Ernst-Jan Pfauth
Story by

Ernst-Jan Pfauth

Ernst-Jan Pfauth is the former Editor in Chief of Internet at NRC Handelsblad, as well as an acclaimed technology author and columnist. He a Ernst-Jan Pfauth is the former Editor in Chief of Internet at NRC Handelsblad, as well as an acclaimed technology author and columnist. He also served as The Next Web’s blog’s first blogger and Editor in Chief, back in 2008. At De Correspondent, Ernst-Jan serves as publisher, fostering the expansion of the platform.

The folks in Redmond have recovered from their unsuccessful attempt to buy Yahoo and are, once again, on a buying spree. Microsoft is about to acquire web-based survey company Greenfield Online for $486 million.

This acquisition gives Microsoft access to Ciao.com, a popular price comparison and consumer reviews site in Europe. Of course this immediately brings up questions about whether Ciao.com’s validity stays in tact. What if Microsoft plugs it Xbox games a little too much in the video games section?

It definitely looks like Microsoft gets particularly excited about Ciao.com, as it will sell of Greenfield Online’s main business, namely the Internet survey solutions, to an unknown buyer. Reuters reports that this part of the company accounts for about 75 percent of Greenfield Online’s overall revenue.

With major companies like Microsoft and Google buying media outlets, the validity of formerly trustworthy tools like search machines and comparisons sites becomes doubtful. I earlier reported about Google ranking its own content higher in the search results (i.e. Knol above Yahoo! Answers), the same might be happening with Ciao.com.

Hopefully, these developments might spur an anti major media company sentiment. While we’ve agreed with multinationals buying news papers (Murdoch et al), it may be easier to develop alternatives to sites like Ciao.com. Will “has no mother company” become a popular marketing slogan?