A Scope Of Microsoft Essay, Research Paper
There are many factors that must be considered when scoping out a company for a potential merger or acquisition. I being the CEO of a major competitive software manufacturing company look for many things. Things such as strategic planning, financial performance, technological advances and marketing opportunities are just some of the factors that must be looked at when considering another company for acquisition. In this case, Microsoft Corporation is our target. I will be examining the above-mentioned factors before making my decision on whether or not an acquisition will be feasible.
Microsoft Corporation was founded in 1975 by William H. Gates III. The company, which was inspired by Gates, had a vision of computers powered by software developed by the company being a way of life. The goal was to integrate computers into people s everyday lives. The company started out in Gates garage with primitive technology and unlimited aspiration. Today the company has grown to be the world s number one software developer and manufacturer. The company offers a very diverse line of products ranging from home user applications to high tech business software. Microsoft develops and manufactures a full line of games, web publishing, and most importantly, it s number one piece of software, Windows 2000 and ever-popular Office 2000. The world basically runs on Microsoft software. The software is shipped with 70% of the world s computers giving Microsoft a total of over 19 billion dollars in revenues for 1999. Microsoft has recently emerged in the world of Internet Service Providers (ISP s) to become a competitor of the well-known America Online. The Microsoft Network (MSN) as it is known offers users the same advantages of the leading ISP s while incorporating its own technology to make the online experience more user friendly and technologically advanced than the others. MSN allows users to interface their online work with their regular operating software to allow for easier web publishing, more advanced multimedia presentations, and quicker processing time.
There have been many issues concerning Microsoft s strategies. Many say that the company is only in the market to take over and monopolize. As a matter of fact, the United States Government is currently in a civil anti-trust case against the company. Evidence and criticism has been brought against them in order to try to stop them from monopolizing. In the past five years, Microsoft has made over forty acquisitions of companies of all sizes. It seems now that they are doing more investing in companies rather than taking over. Microsoft holds large investment positions in NBC, Nextel Communications, AT&T, NTL Inc., Qwest Communications and United Pan-Europe Communications. Of course those are only the largest investment positions of 200 million dollars and over. There are many other small investment positions as well. This is just one of the strategies of the company, as a result of all of their investment positions, it allows them to increase their market share through exposure in different markets. Another strategy that Microsoft adheres to is to be the most technologically advanced software developer in the market. Microsoft has always been the leader in technology when it comes to all types of software, whether it is for home user or business. It is said that within the next few years, many people will begin to live in smart homes. Microsoft is currently developing technology that will enable a computer to run an entire household, without the user being home! It is this type of technology that keeps Microsoft ahead of the rest of the competition. This goes hand in hand with the expected $3.8 billion expected investment in R&D in fiscal 2000. It is no wonder why the government is trying to break up this enormous super power of a company!
A critical strategy that Microsoft is part of is immense globalization. Microsoft has marketing locations in over 73 countries worldwide. This is a big part of Microsoft s strategy because it allows them to gain exposure all over the world, which will influence businesses and homes all over the world to become part of the Microsoft network of software.
Financially Microsoft has always been a top performer. Since the company went public in March of 1986, the company has grown to 325% of its original size. In fiscal year 1985, the company had a net income of $24 million, as of fourth quarter 1999; the company had a net income of $7.7 billion. Total stockholders equity in fiscal 99 was over $28 billion. Numbers like these are not very common in the software developing and manufacturing business. Most of Microsoft s revenues come from Licensing Agreements. Licensing Agreements are software agreements that companies enter into with Microsoft for the permission to install and use Microsoft software in their business. When new software is available, the company has a choice to renew their lease agreement of use other software, the latter not being too wise.
This brings me to the topics of competition and threats. True there is competition in the world of software, lots of it. The biggest competitor with Microsoft is a company called Red Hat. Red Hat manufactures a platform known as Linux. Linux is strictly business application software that is used by large corporations for implementing inventory systems, databases, and the like. Another source of competition comes from a company known as Novell. Novell is known for Novell Netware. This is business application software that is used mainly in financial institutions like banks and brokerage firms. This software is used for logging transactions at banks and brokerage firms, while maintaining an internal network within the company. Red Hat and Novell only occupy about forty to fifty percent of the market share combined. One should keep in mind that behind these two software platforms is Microsoft s NT Server Client software powering the servers that allow the companies to use this software! Basically, even thought there is competition, Microsoft still is able to gain a piece of the market share by being one step ahead of its competition.
A big issue for Microsoft that is becoming a growing threat to the company is Software Piracy. Software Piracy is committed by making illegal copies of the software and perhaps even selling it. This is a very common act today with the ease of using a CD burner. In fact, many businesses operate on illegal software, which in turn hurts the revenues of Microsoft. Microsoft is currently working on programs that cannot be copied to blank disks in order to protect themselves from this threat. Currently, anyone who knows where to get the software from illegal web sites can download them absolutely free. Once this software is downloaded to a hard drive, it can be written to a CD and then re-written, an infinite number of times from that one CD that was originally used. It is clear to see that this can become quite harmful if not taken care of promptly. This is especially done with businesses. However, they do buy one copy of the software from Microsoft and then copy it onto all of the computers in the office, thereby saving themselves large amounts of money. It is a proven statistic that in some companies, there exists over five hundred copies of illegal software that are being used in normal business operation. It is easy to see how this can create a loss for Microsoft, no doubt that this problem will be resolved in the future.
Another threat to Microsoft as I mentioned before is the ongoing Anti-trust case that is currently pending. In this case, the government is trying to break up Microsoft into perhaps a number of smaller companies, which would allow for more competition to enter the market. Bill gates sees this as a better opportunity to further diversify the line of product that Microsoft delivers. This will actually give Microsoft a better chance to scope out different markets and perhaps develop new products for PC s and businesses that will better enable other countries to prosper.
As the CEO of my firm, I have a very involved decision to make. I feel that the wisest decision would be to not acquire Microsoft. Microsoft is a company that is a pioneer of software and is fully established and in order to be able to take them over, my company needs to be able to continue what Microsoft started. My company does not have the type of funds to be able to take over Microsoft, nor do we have the market cap to cover a stock for stock purchase. However, there is one consideration that I may make, that is, to form a joint venture with Microsoft. I feel that this will benefit us both in many ways. First, our technology can be combined in order to make the worlds top software developer and manufacturer that will occupy every sector of the software industry. Our manufacturing plants can be consolidated and re-structured to cut costs, wile adapting to manufacture the new software line that my company would introduce. Our management team can be re-structured as well so that strategic planning and decision-making will better implement our new ideas and technological advances. Finally, our market share will be greatly increased because of the ability to be exposed to countries that we are not currently involved in.
I feel that a combination of our companies would be probably the most beneficial event that could occur in my company. Microsoft has proven itself to be the number one software company in the world; together we would be unstoppable. One problem with this joint venture would be the matter with the pending Anti-Trust case, which would probably be further fueled by this joint venture. Whatever the outcome of the case, which by the way seems to be nearing a settlement, I feel that the newly formed company will be the best thing that has happened in software since 1975.
**All factual and financial information was taken from Microsoft s 1999 Financial Report.