Microsoft is selling mapping assets to Uber while AOL will assume responsibility for its display, mobile and video advertising inventory in nine markets.
Uber confirmed a deal that will see it acquire part of the mapping business that deals with imagery acquisition and map data analysis and processing. It will offer jobs to around 100 Microsoft employees.
“This acquisition is largely about talent,” said an Uber spokesperson, adding that “mapping is at the heart of what makes Uber great. So we’ll continue to work with partners, as well as invest in our own technology, to build the best possible experience for riders and drivers.”
Uber’s statement said it has always used a combination of mapping technology, including that of Google, Apple, and Baidu, though some reports indicate the acquisition could lessen its reliance on them.
Uber has been linked to a bid for HERE, Nokia’s mapping business, but it now appears that it may have chosen to go in a different direction.
This is one of many moves by Uber to boost its mapping efforts. Last month it acquired a mapping software company called deCarta, and its Advanced Technologies Center is working on mapping and autonomous vehicle technology.
For Microsoft, the deal could indicate a focus on displaying maps on its Windows devices rather than generating the maps themselves.
Meanwhile, AOL, now a unit of Verizon Communications, “will assume management and sales responsibility for all of Microsoft’s display, mobile and video advertising inventory in nine markets and represent inventory from across Microsoft’s suite of leading online brands, including MSN Homepage and verticals, Outlook Mail, Xbox, Skype and ads in apps”.
This means Microsoft will focus on its growing search advertising business based on its Bing search engine.
According to Rik van der Kooi, corporate vice president at Microsoft, “this deal is further evidence of the quality of Bing results and the performance of the Bing Ads marketplace.”
Both moves fit with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s stance on concentrating on the company’s strengths, a position he emphasised in a company-wide email last week.
Two weeks ago he initiated a reshuffle of senior management that included the depature of Stephen Elop, the former CEO of Nokia who headed Microsoft’s devices unit after its acquisition of the Finnish vendor.