The Wall Street Journal is reporting today that Microsoft is in talks to invest in Facebook by as much as 5%, which would value the social networking site at more than $10 billion. Wait, what? $10 billion?? That stake from Microsoft would reportedly be worth $300 to $500 million. It's a somewhat complicated deal that would involve advertising, strategy and cross-platform stuff. But hang on. How'd this all happen so fast? Yet another sign of the times.
Facebook has seen such a rapid rise in popularity in the past year that companies like Google and Microsoft are competing for its favor. There are more than 40 million people registered as users. Thus far, young founder Mark Zuckerberg has rebuffed any major investment from established tech companies like Microsoft or Google or Yahoo!. (Of course that doesn't mean those companies aren't developing their own "Facebook-esque" venture.) Zuckerberg often cites independence, the desire to open the site up to third-party developers and the chance to keep growing and expanding without excessive corporate influence. I applaud him for that and hope it continues. (Obviously, if this upward trend continues he'll also go public at some point. That might change the whole game.)
Many of have some kind of Microsoft product in our lives, and Google has certainly become ubiquitous with searching online. But does every successful networking startup (see: Flickr, YouTube) have to cash in? I mean, don't get me wrong. Many young programmers begin with a dream to carve out a niche, and some are eager to be bought out by the bigger fish. Fine. I get it. But as a regular Facebook user I LIKE that it's different than Microsoft or Google or Yahoo!. I LIKE that it's unique and simple and actually quite handy for a transplanted Canadian. I guess I'm naively hoping it'll stay that way. Poke poke.
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