I Still Don't See Microsoft Buying Facebook
Or more to the point, I don't see Facebook selling. New fears by John Furrier and Robert Scoble remind me of that "Googlezon" video that was making its way around the Web several years ago. You remember, we all watched it and shuddered and thought, "That could totally happen!" It didn't. And it looks sillier the farther we get from it.
A lot of things could "totally" happen, and there's nothing particularly wrong with Scoble's logic. Except that Facebook doesn't want to sell, Mark Zuckerberg hasn't even been in the U.S. for weeks, and I'd be stunned if Facebook's end goal was really to break the Web. (Can't vouch for that EVIL EVIL Microsoft!) There are always rumors in the valley, but I simply haven't heard this from a credible source.
I feel like I'm the only person in Silicon Valley who isn't jumping up and down and screaming about openness. It's important, yes, but as a business Facebook has to be careful here. Can you imagine if Facebook suddenly did open up the entire site to Google's spiders? Do you know what kind of a privacy uproar they'd have on their hands? Partially from me. I don't want my events, friend list, photos and messages opened up to the Web. That's why I use Facebook. I think this is a case where Facebook unfortunately has to chose between its very tech power users who want openness and its much broader base of highschool, college kids, and everyday people who want walled gardens.
And I think Scoble's example of Upcoming v. Facebook events is spurious, because you have to log in with a Yahoo ID to take any action on Upcoming. I'm not sure just being able to see it is practically much of a difference. Whenever conferences or parties have events pages on Upcoming and Facebook, I always RSVP on Facebook. Because I am already on the site, and I can just click attending. My guess is the Le Web invite on Facebook had way more responses because Facebook events is simply a better app.
Oh, and per Kara's reporting that Facebook insiders are concerned an IPO isn't likely until 2010 because of the business model challenges: For years now, Mark has been pretty public saying an IPO was 2009 at the very earliest, 2010 more likely. Chamath Palipaphitiya has said this is a multi-year-- even multi-decade-- ad strategy. So I don't see how that would be a shock inside the company. Unless something has gone horribly awry-- and I don't know what it could be in this still early stage of building out its revenue plan--I don't see why Facebook would suddenly do an about face. I have no doubt the two sides are talking and that Microsoft wants this to happen. But unless those "friendly" meetings have been overseas, Mark hasn't been in them. And we all know it's still "A Mark Zuckerberg Production" over there, even if the words have been taken off the site.
Of course if Microsoft does buy Facebook, I'll look like a total idiot. But I'd rather be a conclusive idiot with an educated opinion than say "anything can happen!" like a lot of the commentators. (That's actually what I love about Scoble's post-- it argues a point and is thought provoking. Look at all the discussion today! This is the blogosphere at its best!) There is one X-factor, of course, and that's price. Everyone has a price, even Mark Zuckerberg. Facebook is a venture-backed company that has a fiduciary duty to shareholders. I don't know what that price is. But if it's high enough to force him to sell, I can't imagine Microsoft's shareholders being too happy with it.
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