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August 9, 2007

aQuantive shareholders agree to Microsoft acquisition

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano at 10:43 AM

In a brief, well-attended -- by aQuantive's past standards -- shareholder meeting this morning in Seattle, owners of the company overwhelmingly approved Microsoft's proposed acquisition, which will net them gains of more than $30 a share, 85 percent, over the price before the deal was announced.

On May 18, Microsoft announced plans to buy the Seattle-based digital advertising company for $6 billion, or $66.50 a share.

The crowd of about 25 shareholders and current and former employees applauded when the vote tally was read. Out of 79,985,251 shares outstanding eligible to vote on the acquisition, the holders of approximately 58,197,697 shares of common stock, 72.7 percent, cast ballots in favor of the acquisition. Here's the regulatory filing confirming the vote.

One man with a big smile on his face was Hoby Douglass. He joined what was then Avenue A in 1999, before the company went public. He was wearing a baseball jersey identifying him as employee No. 106.

Douglass said the jersey was used in a marketing campaign to attract new hires.

"We did a pub crawl all over town and came up to people and said. 'Do you want to work here? Do you want to work here?' Because that's the way it was back then. And we got some new employees out of it, so it was great," he said.

Today, the company has about 2,400 employees globally who will soon become part of Microsoft, which has close to 79,000 full-time workers. The deal is expected to be finalized later this month.

Douglass later left aQuantive, but he said he continued to buy shares of its stock on the open market to add to what he accumulated as an employee. He said he did so because he always had confidence in the company's management.

"I knew the management and I thought, this is not a risk," Douglass said. "They've proven me right."

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