Microsoft wins Facebook bid? Here's the insider scoop on why…

Last night I was hanging around at the Ritz near my house. That’s where Jerry Yang, CEO of Yahoo spoke yesterday, and where the Right Media conference is going on right now.

I talked with several people who didn’t want to go on the record, but who are executives at Microsoft’s competitors. They told me to “watch out for Brian McAndrews, former CEO of aQuantive.”

That’s the company that sold recently to Microsoft for a very large sum of money (around $6 billion).

They say he now is working for Kevin Johnson, president of Microsoft and is expected to make major moves on Microsoft’s behalf to get Microsoft a major position into the advertising industry.

So, what’s the rumor this morning? Microsoft wins the Facebook bid.

If this is all true, then Steve Ballmer’s promise to buy 50 companies in the advertising and Web 2.0 spaces in the next year is off to a roaring start.

Since I don’t think Steve Ballmer understands the advertising world, it sure looks like someone else is behind this move. I’d love to interview Brian McAndrews.

UPDATE: if this rumor is true, it means big revenues for Facebook. Microsoft has a world-class advertising sales team. I bet they could promise more revenues than Google could, particularly because Microsoft’s sales team is much more focused on banner advertising than Google’s team is.

UPDATE2: Microsoft’s Hank Vigil was in Palo Alto yesterday, so maybe he’s behind this. Me?

Comments

  1. Ha, ha. Scoble leave Microsoft and Ballmer gets a great idea. Hey, we should buy a bunch of Web 2.0 stuff. Glad I thought of that…

    Regardless, I’m still not convinced Microsoft knows what they’re doing in the web 2.0 space. Just because you buy a formula 1 car, doesn’t mean you know how to dive it.

  2. Ha, ha. Scoble leave Microsoft and Ballmer gets a great idea. Hey, we should buy a bunch of Web 2.0 stuff. Glad I thought of that…

    Regardless, I’m still not convinced Microsoft knows what they’re doing in the web 2.0 space. Just because you buy a formula 1 car, doesn’t mean you know how to dive it.

  3. I honestly hope they didn’t fork out billions for Facebook. That would be absolutely ridiculous. I don’t use it, I don’t want to use it, and I think all the hype about Facebook is just that — hype, and nothing more.

    It’s just a social site where people can choose to waste their time — as if there aren’t enough of them already. If all of the Silicon Valley journalists (including you) hadn’t talked it up so much, Facebook would be nowhere near the valuation it has today, and rightly so. They don’t deserve it.

  4. I honestly hope they didn’t fork out billions for Facebook. That would be absolutely ridiculous. I don’t use it, I don’t want to use it, and I think all the hype about Facebook is just that — hype, and nothing more.

    It’s just a social site where people can choose to waste their time — as if there aren’t enough of them already. If all of the Silicon Valley journalists (including you) hadn’t talked it up so much, Facebook would be nowhere near the valuation it has today, and rightly so. They don’t deserve it.

  5. Raoul: if you think Facebook is just hype then you are totally clueless and Facebook got most of its growth BEFORE I “talked it up.”

    David: one thing Microsoft DOES know is how to sell advertising. Zuckerberg just went for the revenues!

  6. Raoul: if you think Facebook is just hype then you are totally clueless and Facebook got most of its growth BEFORE I “talked it up.”

    David: one thing Microsoft DOES know is how to sell advertising. Zuckerberg just went for the revenues!

  7. Robert – if you didnt know about topic X, wouldn’t it make sense for you to hire someone who knows topic X really well? Microsoft has done that in the past multiple times – from getting Dave Cutler and the DEC folks to come build an operating system to getting Peter Spiro and the other SQL folks to come build a database.

    Not that I agree with you on SteveB – I’ve seen him speak multiple times, both in public and private and I think he ‘gets’ it more than most people.

  8. Very interesting. I’m extremely happy for the Facebook team. They’ve worked hard and waited through other offers that would have taken much more of the company, and now find themselves in a position to give away a small stake for a large chunk of cash, and establish an astronomical total valuation.

    Good for them.

    Raoul – I’d suggest giving Facebook a try before you completely dismiss it. Although you can certainly waste time there (you can also waste time commenting on blogs…) there’s incredible power in being well connected and communicating with a broad social network. I’ve personally helped friends in my network find employment, apartments, and more.

    Also, since Facebook has opened up their network to developers, the generation of applications growing up on the facebook platform will be free of the burden of building their own mini-social network, messaging system, etc. That’s a huge deal, and there is a lot of innovation coming.

  9. Very interesting. I’m extremely happy for the Facebook team. They’ve worked hard and waited through other offers that would have taken much more of the company, and now find themselves in a position to give away a small stake for a large chunk of cash, and establish an astronomical total valuation.

    Good for them.

    Raoul – I’d suggest giving Facebook a try before you completely dismiss it. Although you can certainly waste time there (you can also waste time commenting on blogs…) there’s incredible power in being well connected and communicating with a broad social network. I’ve personally helped friends in my network find employment, apartments, and more.

    Also, since Facebook has opened up their network to developers, the generation of applications growing up on the facebook platform will be free of the burden of building their own mini-social network, messaging system, etc. That’s a huge deal, and there is a lot of innovation coming.

  10. Robert – if you didnt know about topic X, wouldn’t it make sense for you to hire someone who knows topic X really well? Microsoft has done that in the past multiple times – from getting Dave Cutler and the DEC folks to come build an operating system to getting Peter Spiro and the other SQL folks to come build a database.

    Not that I agree with you on SteveB – I’ve seen him speak multiple times, both in public and private and I think he ‘gets’ it more than most people.

  11. I don’t know that implementing aQuantive on Facebook merits Facebook’s announcement that it had something explosive to share about the future of it’s advertising. It would be nice to see relevant targeting and I’m not sure why it’s so difficult to achieve. Stating that he wants to buy 50 advertising related companies in a year seems kind of silly. It’s not quantity it’s quality and integration. I’m sure he’d be happy to talk to you, do people decline your requests for an interview?

  12. Raoul, don’t you just hate the permanence of web entries? There are way too many people out there who simply cannot and will not agree with your statement.

    Do you really believe the Facebook “hype” came about through the work of journalists? Or do you reckon it is such a multileveled platform that people from a diverse perspective of life choose to engage with it?

    Just because you see no value in the platform, does that justify that the presumed billions to be spent on it is ridiculous? Have a bit of objectivity mate.

    For every one person that feels the way you do, there are ten that totally disagree. (stats made up on the spot byt the way)

  13. Raoul, don’t you just hate the permanence of web entries? There are way too many people out there who simply cannot and will not agree with your statement.

    Do you really believe the Facebook “hype” came about through the work of journalists? Or do you reckon it is such a multileveled platform that people from a diverse perspective of life choose to engage with it?

    Just because you see no value in the platform, does that justify that the presumed billions to be spent on it is ridiculous? Have a bit of objectivity mate.

    For every one person that feels the way you do, there are ten that totally disagree. (stats made up on the spot byt the way)

  14. I don’t know that implementing aQuantive on Facebook merits Facebook’s announcement that it had something explosive to share about the future of it’s advertising. It would be nice to see relevant targeting and I’m not sure why it’s so difficult to achieve. Stating that he wants to buy 50 advertising related companies in a year seems kind of silly. It’s not quantity it’s quality and integration. I’m sure he’d be happy to talk to you, do people decline your requests for an interview?

  15. Sriram: I’ve heard Ballmer speak several times. I don’t think he gets the world of the Web and advertising. But it doesn’t matter as long as he gets out of the way of those who do get it.

    Ballmer does one thing well, though: built the best sales team in the industry.

  16. Sriram: I’ve heard Ballmer speak several times. I don’t think he gets the world of the Web and advertising. But it doesn’t matter as long as he gets out of the way of those who do get it.

    Ballmer does one thing well, though: built the best sales team in the industry.

  17. We are going to look back at the valuations of social networking sites just like we looked at “the bubble 1.0″. Must be nice for large companies to piss shareholder money away. I’d love to see the ROI numbers on Facebook and MySpace. I’m not saying this is a fad but the prices being paid seem way out of line.

  18. We are going to look back at the valuations of social networking sites just like we looked at “the bubble 1.0″. Must be nice for large companies to piss shareholder money away. I’d love to see the ROI numbers on Facebook and MySpace. I’m not saying this is a fad but the prices being paid seem way out of line.

  19. Do you think Facebook (powered by Microsoft) will remain a neutral/open environment for developers? Skype just started integration with MySpace’s IM client and other elements of their network.

    Would a Microsoft property be open enough to allow non-Microsoft parties to inject themselves into the core user experience? Or would other Microsoft properties (like Live Messenger, for example) get an inside track and preferential treatment? At the expense of an open space for community innovation?

  20. Do you think Facebook (powered by Microsoft) will remain a neutral/open environment for developers? Skype just started integration with MySpace’s IM client and other elements of their network.

    Would a Microsoft property be open enough to allow non-Microsoft parties to inject themselves into the core user experience? Or would other Microsoft properties (like Live Messenger, for example) get an inside track and preferential treatment? At the expense of an open space for community innovation?

  21. Robert, you need to re-read my comment. I wasn’t talking about growth in numbers, as you suggest. I was talking about market valuation and media presence — the hype that journalists aided and abetted through their coverage.

    And yes, I still stand by my words, regardless of whether you think my opinion is qualified or not.

  22. Robert, you need to re-read my comment. I wasn’t talking about growth in numbers, as you suggest. I was talking about market valuation and media presence — the hype that journalists aided and abetted through their coverage.

    And yes, I still stand by my words, regardless of whether you think my opinion is qualified or not.

  23. Roaring start? Have you lost your marbles? (well, that is assuming you had any to lose). ;)

    The head of a company Microsoft paid $5.5 billion toooo much for, gets a “great idea” to fork over tons of cash at outlandish valuations, at which points even crazies like Murdoch and Google be skeptical. Brian just needs something for that “world-class advertising sales team” to ACTUALLY do…

    Microsoft should get out of Consumer and get out of Search and Web Advertising, and go back to making some great software. Frankly I am surprised the shareholders aren’t daily circling Redmond with pitchforks and torches.

    Facebook is just doing this as they have noooo idea how to sell advertising, and are pretty low rent revenuewise. Besides the close-knit college community feel that made the ‘first’ Facebook, was lost when it was opened up to everyone. Enter the Silicon Valley dorks throwing away their rolodex’es into Facebook’s steel-jawed box, remaking Facebook into a status-swarmy network marketing spitz. And making it Microsoftish (even just the advertising backend) will weaken it further.

    Classic dot.com con game: useful community tool, opened up, hyped up, journalists and bloggers as stooges, pit warring companies against each other, pump pump and dump dump.

    Still I don’t think Microsoft wants the whole thing, just the advertising network. If it goes total Microsoft, game over.

    Best sales team in the industry? Soooo that accounts for UMPC/Tablet PC (Windows for Pen), Mira, Media2Go, Microsoft Reader, Smartphone, PlaysForSure, Windows Media Center and the whole XBox Division, Zune and Zune 2, Web TV, Ultimate TV, MSN TV2, MSN itself, SPOT, Microsoft TV IPTV Edition, WinCE/Windows Mobile (PPC, Palm PC), CAR.NET, Wireless hardware, WMA…and on and on. Best? In one market segment it’s been a near TOTAL FAILURE, nothing ‘best’ about it.

    But spend tons of shareholder cash, in eternal dreamland pursuit of greener grass, yeah, they can do that well.

  24. Roaring start? Have you lost your marbles? (well, that is assuming you had any to lose). ;)

    The head of a company Microsoft paid $5.5 billion toooo much for, gets a “great idea” to fork over tons of cash at outlandish valuations, at which points even crazies like Murdoch and Google be skeptical. Brian just needs something for that “world-class advertising sales team” to ACTUALLY do…

    Microsoft should get out of Consumer and get out of Search and Web Advertising, and go back to making some great software. Frankly I am surprised the shareholders aren’t daily circling Redmond with pitchforks and torches.

    Facebook is just doing this as they have noooo idea how to sell advertising, and are pretty low rent revenuewise. Besides the close-knit college community feel that made the ‘first’ Facebook, was lost when it was opened up to everyone. Enter the Silicon Valley dorks throwing away their rolodex’es into Facebook’s steel-jawed box, remaking Facebook into a status-swarmy network marketing spitz. And making it Microsoftish (even just the advertising backend) will weaken it further.

    Classic dot.com con game: useful community tool, opened up, hyped up, journalists and bloggers as stooges, pit warring companies against each other, pump pump and dump dump.

    Still I don’t think Microsoft wants the whole thing, just the advertising network. If it goes total Microsoft, game over.

    Best sales team in the industry? Soooo that accounts for UMPC/Tablet PC (Windows for Pen), Mira, Media2Go, Microsoft Reader, Smartphone, PlaysForSure, Windows Media Center and the whole XBox Division, Zune and Zune 2, Web TV, Ultimate TV, MSN TV2, MSN itself, SPOT, Microsoft TV IPTV Edition, WinCE/Windows Mobile (PPC, Palm PC), CAR.NET, Wireless hardware, WMA…and on and on. Best? In one market segment it’s been a near TOTAL FAILURE, nothing ‘best’ about it.

    But spend tons of shareholder cash, in eternal dreamland pursuit of greener grass, yeah, they can do that well.

  25. Microsoft has the biggest and arguably the most widely used social networking tool in the world today….MSN messenger (or Live messenger) They also have hotmail….with those assets, they should have, and could have been the leader in doing what Facebook does so well today much earlier…They should have brought those assets together much earlier…If they had, then maybe they would have been in a much better position today. In some countries messenger has over 90% marketshare….So either way, this would be catch up, but its a very expensive piece of catch up work for them…

  26. Microsoft has the biggest and arguably the most widely used social networking tool in the world today….MSN messenger (or Live messenger) They also have hotmail….with those assets, they should have, and could have been the leader in doing what Facebook does so well today much earlier…They should have brought those assets together much earlier…If they had, then maybe they would have been in a much better position today. In some countries messenger has over 90% marketshare….So either way, this would be catch up, but its a very expensive piece of catch up work for them…

  27. Even if Microsoft wins the bidding war, they are the loser because they paid more than what they should be paying, just to make a point to Google. This, itself, is an acceptance of defeat by Microsoft.

  28. Even if Microsoft wins the bidding war, they are the loser because they paid more than what they should be paying, just to make a point to Google. This, itself, is an acceptance of defeat by Microsoft.

  29. If Microsoft wins this bidding round for Facebook, I think they’ll want to keep the platform open.

    As they are known to cater to developers, it might just be one of many reasons to really be in the Facebook bandwagon. Being more present in the first successful Web OS is not something to scuff at.

  30. If Microsoft wins this bidding round for Facebook, I think they’ll want to keep the platform open.

    As they are known to cater to developers, it might just be one of many reasons to really be in the Facebook bandwagon. Being more present in the first successful Web OS is not something to scuff at.

  31. Robert, your intelligence gathering efforts struck gold. It has indeed gone the way you suggested. Kevin Johnson just sent out an email confirming it.

  32. Robert, your intelligence gathering efforts struck gold. It has indeed gone the way you suggested. Kevin Johnson just sent out an email confirming it.

  33. $240 million for a 1.6% take, just dipping toes in, and gives Facebook enough to ‘expand’ (read: stay alive) and until they try to IPO (read 2-3 years, better climates). Blah, nothing here, except for the faux journalist drama of Google vs. Microsoft.

  34. $240 million for a 1.6% take, just dipping toes in, and gives Facebook enough to ‘expand’ (read: stay alive) and until they try to IPO (read 2-3 years, better climates). Blah, nothing here, except for the faux journalist drama of Google vs. Microsoft.

  35. It seems Microsoft got 1.6% of Facebook for $240 million (if reports are accurate).

    Tomorrow’s news: Google buys 3.2% stake on Facebook for $480 million.

  36. It seems Microsoft got 1.6% of Facebook for $240 million (if reports are accurate).

    Tomorrow’s news: Google buys 3.2% stake on Facebook for $480 million.

  37. Raoul,

    I don’t (continue to) use Facebook because journalists ‘talked it up’. I might _try_ it because journalists talked it up, but the ‘talking up’ is certainly not what is going to keep me there.

    How can you talk down the success of a product that is clearly being used by millions?

    Additionally [analogy alert!], I may not be too fussed with Madonna’s music – in fact I might even think that it is all crap – but there is no denying that she has made some excellent decisions and capitalised on them over the years, and I admire her for her initial and ongoing success.

    Regardless of how much “assistive (I love making up words) hype” Facebook may be getting from the press, they certainly deserve credit for keeping people there.

  38. Raoul,

    I don’t (continue to) use Facebook because journalists ‘talked it up’. I might _try_ it because journalists talked it up, but the ‘talking up’ is certainly not what is going to keep me there.

    How can you talk down the success of a product that is clearly being used by millions?

    Additionally [analogy alert!], I may not be too fussed with Madonna’s music – in fact I might even think that it is all crap – but there is no denying that she has made some excellent decisions and capitalised on them over the years, and I admire her for her initial and ongoing success.

    Regardless of how much “assistive (I love making up words) hype” Facebook may be getting from the press, they certainly deserve credit for keeping people there.

  39. Nothing against Microsoft but they have this tendency to pretty much f*** things up that they acquire and haven’t build themselves. Just hoping that the same thing doesn’t happen to facebook.

  40. Nothing against Microsoft but they have this tendency to pretty much f*** things up that they acquire and haven’t build themselves. Just hoping that the same thing doesn’t happen to facebook.

  41. M$ didn’t buy Fakebook.

    They just pissed in the pool so nobody else could swim.

    I would never do business with such unethical monopolist.

    Period!

  42. M$ didn’t buy Fakebook.

    They just pissed in the pool so nobody else could swim.

    I would never do business with such unethical monopolist.

    Period!

  43. Microsoft must view facebook as a programming language for the web, and wants to keep google away from screwing with that. But how powerful and flexible is the facebook api for integrating different software, and when did they start designing their api? :D:D

  44. Microsoft must view facebook as a programming language for the web, and wants to keep google away from screwing with that. But how powerful and flexible is the facebook api for integrating different software, and when did they start designing their api? :D:D

  45. I am relieved that Microsoft won this and not Google.

    This is good on so many levels it’s hard to really explain why in one or two sentences.

    Google “owns” too much of the Web for my liking. It’s nice when there is actual competition out there.

    I’ll tell you what. I’m looking forward to Microsoft’s Surface platform becoming available to the public. Talk about ads really taking off. Being able to sit in a hotel loby or a restaurant and actually interact with ads and programs like paying one’s bill is outstanding technology. The only drawback is that is might kill off some jobs.

  46. I am relieved that Microsoft won this and not Google.

    This is good on so many levels it’s hard to really explain why in one or two sentences.

    Google “owns” too much of the Web for my liking. It’s nice when there is actual competition out there.

    I’ll tell you what. I’m looking forward to Microsoft’s Surface platform becoming available to the public. Talk about ads really taking off. Being able to sit in a hotel loby or a restaurant and actually interact with ads and programs like paying one’s bill is outstanding technology. The only drawback is that is might kill off some jobs.

  47. Somebody had to step forward in validating the use of social networks for business, who better than MS.

    FB is already addressing .mobi, that is the key component. Encouragement of developers again is something that triggers MS interests. The fact a vehicle(FB), has a ridiculous number of users sends advertisers into WAR Rooms, an find a way to capitalize
    on it.

    What this investment/agreement/purchase does is lay value to the competitors. Is LinkedIn next?

  48. Somebody had to step forward in validating the use of social networks for business, who better than MS.

    FB is already addressing .mobi, that is the key component. Encouragement of developers again is something that triggers MS interests. The fact a vehicle(FB), has a ridiculous number of users sends advertisers into WAR Rooms, an find a way to capitalize
    on it.

    What this investment/agreement/purchase does is lay value to the competitors. Is LinkedIn next?