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Money For Nothing: Can Microsoft Make Up For This $6.3 Billion Failure?

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- It's been over one year since software giant Microsoft (MSFT) spent an estimated $8.5 billion to acquire voice-over-internet company Skype.

Though I felt it was a strategic move to help restore its relevance from the constant punishment by Apple (AAPL) and Google (GOOG), I also realized that it could have been a decision made out of sheer desperation -- one urged by its need to spend cash at the behest of investors to help invigorate a languishing stock price.

Plus it didn't help that it had recently been rebuffed by Yahoo! (YHOO) on its acquisitions offers. The company was anxious to close a deal -- any deal.

Here we are over a year later and I'm still waiting for Microsoft to reveal its line of attack as it relates to Skype in a video conferencing market that is dominated by Cisco (CSCO) and the aforementioned Google.

Is there cause for concern? I raise this question because last week investors learned Microsoft had absorbed a write-down estimated at $6.3 billion dollars for its acquisition of aQuantive five years ago, a move that was supposed to help spur its efforts to get into the online advertising market.

Remarkably, investors appeared to not have cared to the extent that the stock even managed a small gain at session's close.

In its announcement in which Microsoft admitted the acquisition was a mistake, the company said that "while aQuantive continues to provide tools for Microsoft's online advertising efforts, the acquisition did not accelerate growth to the degree anticipated" -- which lead to the write-down.

As embarrassing as this confession may have been for Microsoft, I think the company deserves a considerable amount of credit for opting to cut its losses and moving on. More noteworthy was that it also admitted that the acquisition was a mistake, something that Research in Motion (RIMM) has been unwilling to do.

Having said that, it does serve to open up more speculation about some other possibilities.

As I've noted above in regards to Skype, the company still has yet to disclose its intentions. Now, on the heels of this aQuantive write-down, I can't help but speculate if Skype will prove to be another "money-for-nothing" type of a situation.

It was a deal that brought a lot of promise to a company that was battling competitive issues. With Skype's voice and video sharing capabilities I expected it to have (by now) provided Microsoft with a drastic injection in the enterprise collaboration space. But we're still waiting. Is Skype another write-down waiting to happen?

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