Interesting to see fresh reports about Microsoft buying into Facebook It could be coincidence, but I've noticed a sudden surge of Microsoft New Zealand staff on Facebook lately, with a couple of them adding every conceivable feature (though admittedly, that also applies to a few of our staff, who I'm pretty sure don't have $US300 million for a 5% stake).
The bidding war for Facebook has put 1990s dot.com craziness in the shade. Last year, the 20-somethings behind the site turned down $US1 billion from Yahoo. Earlier this year, Microsoft was rumoured to have offered a stonking $US6 billion. Now, Microsoft's alleged bid for a 5% state implies a value of $US10 billion.
Three things I find curious:
1. Where is Google in all this? The giant has done almost nothing to promote its own social networking site, Orkut (named after its founder and officially the worst brand name in Google's stable. It sounds like a discussion group for Eskimo serial killers). Is Google preparing its own bid for Facebook?
2. What would Microsoft be buying? Facebook has around 300 staff, and cool graffiti art on its walls (was just watching a video tour of its building on the wsj.com) and, more famously, 30 million members, most of them older and better heeled that other soc-net site devotees. But will there be any loyalty to the intellectual property that is Facebook? Murdoch shelled out a fortune to buy MySpace, only to see its teen constituency defect en masse to Bebo.
3. A lot of Facebook's fresh burst of wild-fire success this year has been due to it opening up its platform, willy nilly. Now, almost anyone can add an application that helps users say, compare movie tastes with their friends, or get bitten by a vampire/werewolf etc. For the most part, I apps insanely annoying, but many have been huge successes in viral marketing. Could the more buttoned-down Microsoft - which earlier in the internet revolution shut down a chat service for being too racy - handle such development anarchy?