Microsoft, Redmond, Wash., and Cox Interactive Media, Atlanta, are in discussions to partner their networks of local city sites, industry sources said. Though neither side would comment on the exact nature of the talks, Peter Winter, president of Cox Interactive Media, confirmed that the two companies have a relationship. "We have the greatest respect for Microsoft," Winter said. "We talk with them often. Who knows where those conversations will lead?"
Matt Kursh, business unit manager at Sidewalk, stressed that the property is not for sale. "We have aggressive plans to expand Sidewalk to the top 50 U.S. markets by the end of the year," he said.
The two companies are established in markets that, combined, would make a formidable network. Microsoft's Sidewalk will soon have launched in each of the following 10 U.S. markets: San Diego, Boston, San Francisco, Chicago, Seattle, Denver, Houston, the Twin Cities, New York and Washington, D.C. CIM operates city sites in 16 markets including Atlanta, Austin, Pittsburgh and San Diego, with plans to move soon into New Orleans, Louisville and Providence, among others. The company also operates specialty sites including GreatOutdoors.com and Yall.com, a southern culture site.
Another point of synergy between the two companies is in online auto classifieds and sales. CIM operates Manheim Online, an online auction site that allows auto dealers to buy and sell online, and also plans to launch a consumer site, AutoConnect.com, within the next month. Cox Enterprises, CIM's parent, also publishes Auto Trader, one of the largest sources of auto classifieds in the country. Microsoft owns CarPoint, an online auto buyer's guide that includes auto classifieds.