AT&T quietly closed the book on its six-year foray into media and entertainment by selling its advertising technology business, Xandr, to Microsoft. The telecom giant would doubtless like us all to forget its adventures in entertainment, which involved the purchase of DirecTV, Time Warner and AppNexus—the ad tech business that formed the core of Xandr—for a total of $128 billion. But before we move on, it’s worth asking what AT&T and its shareholders got for the money it spent.
AT&T hasn’t exactly made that assessment easy. Take today’s deal. While AT&T has disclosed that it paid $1.4 billion to buy AppNexus in 2018, it didn’t say what Microsoft is paying for Xandr. The Information reported that AT&T was asking $350 million as recently as last month, but Bloomberg reported today’s deal was “valued at about $1 billion,” whatever that means. It’s possible Microsoft threw in a bunch of extras, like ad time to sell through Xandr or maybe cloud computing credits on Microsoft’s Azure, that pad out the theoretical value.