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Facebook: Why Microsoft’s Buy Makes Sense

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Forget about the $15-billion valuation for a moment — which I admit is difficult to do, since it amounts to about 100 times the company’s estimated annual revenue, a bubblicious multiple by almost any definition (Google is currently trading at about 14 times sales).

Why wouldn’t Microsoft take a stake in a fast-growing social network?

  • 1. It gets to keep Google out, so that’s good.
  • 2. It gets to serve ads to those millions of devoted users who check their Facebook every five minutes.
  • 3. It has effectively bought a call option on the future of the company.

It’s not like Microsoft has to come up with the $15-billion. All it has to do is structure a deal that is worth $250-million or so, complete with performance clauses and so forth, and it gets a piece of something that could be worth substantially more at some point (nice to see that Jon Fine of BusinessWeek agrees with me). Not to hype the Google comparison, since they are completely different animals, but wouldn’t you have bought a small percentage of Google if you had had the chance, regardless of the implied valuation?

Anyway, the bottom line is that it’s only a 1.6-per-cent stake. And it looks like this face really is worth $15-billion after all. So anyone want to take bets on how long it will be until Mark Zuckerberg decides to buy a jumbo-jet party plane just like the Google boys? I guess it’s a good thing Mark turned down Yahoo’s $1-billion takeover last year.

Further reading:

– Mike Arrington has been live-blogging the conference call.

– Silicon Alley Insider did too, by way of writer Peter Kafka.

Some analysis from Ashkan Karbasfrooshan at WatchMojo.

– John Paczkowski at All Things D leads with the Ballmer quote about Facebook being, well… no big deal.

– Rafat at PaidContent says there’s still room for others to invest.

– Erick Schonfeld says Facebook took the path of least resistance.

– Rob Enderle tells the NYT “this was almost personal.”

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Facebook: Why Microsoft’s Buy Makes Sense
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