Microsoft effectively defined the nature of modern computing in the 1990s, though it later lost its crown to Google and Apple. Bill Gates and his colleagues didn't invent computers, the graphical interface or internet browsing. But they came to dominate most users' experience of all three in the 1990s and 2000s. As a result, for several years, Microsoft was the world's most valuable corporation, with a market capitalisation bigger than businesses five times its size by revenues. However, it was also the industry's most hated entity, juggling a string a lawsuits from smaller rivals it had elbowed into oblivion. More recently, peace has broken out at Microsoft. This partly because the company worked hard to rebuild bridges, using part of its huge cash stockpile to settle legal rows with rivals and forge strategic alliances. But just as important was the fact that its role as the big bad giant of the industry was to some extent transferred to Google. Microsoft has attempted to keep pace with Facebook and other rivals with a string of high-priced - but often ill-fated - acquisitions including internet advertising giant aQuantive, online phone service Skype, and Nokia mobile phones. Skype continues but Microsoft shuttered its mobile handset business in 2017. Search engine Bing and tablet Surface have also struggled at times to justify their existence, while Xbox too has proved mercurial. Yet the oldest products are still Microsoft's bread and butter. Despite their age, Windows and Office continue to dominate most PC users' daily activities. The company's biggest acquisition to-date was business-oriented social network LinkedIn in 2016 for a mammoth $27bn. After a slow start, it is gradually beginning to justify its purchase. The new joker in the pack is Microsoft's cloud computing platform Azure. It has quietly come to dominate its market in both revenues and profitability, prompting an unexpected spike in Microsoft's share price. In 2019, the company overtook all its younger tech rivals to yet again seize the crown of the world's most valuable corporation, worth in excess of $1 trillion. The rebirth of Microsoft has been overseen by Satya Nadella, who succeeded Steve Ballmer as CEO in 2014. For the year to June 2019, Microsoft reported record revenues of $125.8bn and best-ever profits of $39.2bn.
Capsule checked 21st August 2019
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Historical profile information for Microsoft
Adbrands Daily Update 27th Nov 2019: "Lucy & The Reindeer". To their considerable credit, Microsoft and their dedicated McCann agency m:united have side-stepped traditional holiday sentimentality for this year's Christmas campaign. That might not seem to be the case judging by the ad's first 40 seconds, but the pay-off offers a refreshing twist on the usual guff. The ad also offers a clever and unobtrusive demo of Microsoft's current hot sales priorities: the Surface laptop/tablet and Microsoft Translator software. It's a late arrival to the Christmas party, but gets here just in time for the Black Friday rush.
Adbrands Daily Update 18th Jul 2019: Strong continuing growth in cloud computing helped push Microsoft's revenues to a record high of $33.7bn in the final quarter of the year ended June 2019. Cloud computing revenues were up 39% year-on-year, and now represent around a third of the total figure. Full year revenues were $125.8bn with net income of $39.2bn; both are best-ever figures for the company. The latter was more than twice the prior-year figure. The group offers only limited information about individual product lines, but almost all segments performed well. None more so than cloud service Azure, up over two-thirds in the final quarter. Core products Office and Windows were also up strongly and past laggards like LinkedIn and Surface also did well in the final quarter, with growth of 25% and 14% respectively. The main weak spots were Xbox and gaming generally, both negative in 4Q. Microsoft's results underpinned its position as the world's most valuable company; the only one currently worth more than one trillion dollars in market cap. (Past champions Amazon and Apple have both fallen back below the threshold).
Adbrands Weekly Update 7th Jun 2018: Microsoft expanded its presence in the software development sector with the acquisition of coding collaboration site GitHub for $7.5bn in stock. GitHub manages a community of more than 28m developers around the globe. The deal is Microsoft’s second biggest under current CEO Satya Nadella, after its $27bn purchase of LinkedIn in 2016, and the 4th biggest in Microsoft’s history (after Nokia mobile and Skype).
Adbrands Weekly Update 31st May 2018: Technology brands continued to dominate in the 2018 edition of WPP's annual Brandz ranking, compiled by Kantar Millward Brown. Google still holds the top spot with a valuation of $302bn, up 23%, but Apple is closing fast with a 28% rise to just under $301bn. Amazon overtook Microsoft for the #3 spot, but both are still around $100bn behind the two leading brands by valuation, while Facebook was #6 on $162bn. The biggest change among the Top Ten was the arrival of of China's twin internet giants Tencent and Alibaba, ranked #5 and #9 respectively for 2018. Another Chinese brand, ecommerce company JD.com was the single biggest riser among the full Top 100 with an increase in valuation of 94%, though it remains for now way down the overall ranking at #59. There was also a big increase for Chinese alcoholic spirit Moutai, as well as the more familiar Paypal, Netflix and Gucci. New additions to the Top 100 included US cable company Spectrum, Uber, Instagram and another Chinese brand, courier company SF Express. The combined value of the Top 100 brands jumped by an astonishing 21% - its biggest ever increase - to $4,400bn. Download the full report at Brandz.com.
Adbrands Weekly Update 1st Feb 2018: Publicis Groupe has called upon Microsoft to assist with creation of its enormously ambitious Marcel AI platform, set to launch in just four months' time. Though the system was originally conceived last summer as an inhouse project built by the group's Publicis.Sapient Consulting division, there has been growing speculation that it has proved more problematic than anticipated. Publicis.Sapient co-CEO Chip Register, who had been heading the project, resigned unexpectedly at the end of last year. Publicis.Sapient will continue to oversee the architecture and design of the platform, but Microsoft will now build it using its Azure AI and Office 365 platforms. "Microsoft have unparalleled resources, capabilities and expertise in artificial intelligence," said Publicis CEO Arthur Sadoun. "But we also chose Microsoft because they saw this as a true partnership, between two companies who have the same ambition: to radically change the way each of their industries work. It's this shared vision that will help turn Marcel into a real transformative force for our Groupe."
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