Razorfish, which got its start in 1995, has grown into a dominant player in web media consulting. Yet, this is really not a core business that Microsoft is interested in (the company inherited Razorfish in its $6 billion acquisition of aQuantive several years ago). If anything, it poses conflicts with customers that want to use the company's search and marketing software offerings.
Despite all this, Microsoft was able to wrangle some strategic nuggets. For example, Publicis has agreed to a five-year deal where it will purchase display/search adverting, which could prove helpful in getting traction with Bing.com. In fact, Microsoft will even get a 3% stake in Publicis.
But the deal is certainly positive for Publicis. Razorfish is a leader in the digital space, with clients like Ford (NYSE: F), Dell (NASDAQ: DELL) and Best Buy (NYSE: BBY). Actually, Razorfish will increase Publicis' digital business to roughly a quarter of overall sales. And in light of the relentless march of online advertising, this will be a critical element for growth.