While negotiating through the European press with Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg (“Facebook is a fad”), Microsoft president Steve Ballmer also predicted that advertising would be 25% of Microsoft’s business in a few years (New York Times).
So how big is that?
Well, Microsoft did $50 billion in revenue last year, and presumably Steve doesn’t think it’s going to shrink. So, call Microsoft’s whole business in a few years $60 billion. 25% of that would be $15 billion.
How big is a $15 billion ad business? It’s about the size of a current-day Google. It’s bigger than the ad businesses of Time Warner, Viacom, and CBS. It’s bigger than the entire public newspaper industry ad business. It’s also about 5-times the size of Microsoft’s current ad business–which, as we noted yesterday–is still sucking wind.
Including the recently acquired aQuantive, Microsoft’s ad business does about $3 billion of revenue a year. To reach $15 billion in a few years this business will have to grow at better than 75% per year–which, unless we’re missing something, it won’t. Which means that Microsoft had better be planning to make some other huge acquisitions over the next few years.