Microsoft takes over search specialist Powerset
Following its recent failed attempt at a Yahoo! takeover, Microsoft continues shopping. Microsoft manager Satya Nadella announced that the software concern has carried out successful negotiations to purchase the start-up company Powerset. Details of the acquisition were not announced. As soon as the first rumours about the deal became known over the weekend, news service VentureBeat put the purchase price at $100 million; other sources name a figure of $10 million.
The semantic search engine, which started in May is one of a number of small companies that are working on making net search engines smarter, so that they will deliver better quality hits. This may be done, for example, by search queries taking context into account. The company, founded in 2005, developed a search technology for the Wikipedia online encyclopaedia that, among other things, was able to answer simple questions.
In his Microsoft blog, Nadella explained, "We're buying Powerset first and foremost because we're impressed with the people there." Powerset and its employees will be integrated into the Windows Live Search team. Powerset technology will be able to weed out hits that are not helpful to users.
In an interview with TechCrunch, Microsoft manager Ramez Naam explained that 5 per cent of search engine queries contained components of natural speech that could not be adequately processed by search algorithms. If users knew that it was possible, they would probably prefer to enter entire sentences in the search field, rather than a string of individual terms. Naam further stated that Microsoft wanted to build the Powerset technology into Live Search, this year.