According to a report in Re/Code appearing last week, Microsoft has pulled financial support from FairSearch, an anti-Google “watchdog” or lobbying group that has been at the forefront of advancing European antitrust moves against the company. We sought comment from Microsoft when the report appeared, but the company declined to respond.
The FairSearch site lists current members: Admarketplace.com, Allegro, Buscapé, Expedia, Foundem, Nokia, Oracle, Trip Advisor and Twenga. Microsoft is no longer among them.
The withdrawal of financial support by Microsoft may reflect a kinder, gentler Redmond under the leadership of CEO Satya Nadella versus more combative predecessor Steve Ballmer. Or it could reflect the notion that Microsoft accomplished what it sought out to do with the organization.
Microsoft is apparently not the only FairSearch member to pull out. In 2012, the group’s membership (above) also featured a few more companies than it has today, including Kayak (owned by Priceline). At least a couple of group’s members may have been lost to acquisitions — TheFind was bought by Facebook, SideStep was acquired by Kayak. Others appear to have stopped participating, though Hotwire is owned by Expedia (still a member).
FairSearch was founded in 2010 and was instrumental in arguing against and helping defeat the “rival links” antitrust settlement proposal that had been worked out between then European Commission chief Joaquín Almunia and Google.