Tech Check

Microsoft-Facebook Deal Done, But Worth It?


We now have a definitive agreement: Microsoft   gets a stake in Facebook for $240 million, and now valuing the company at $15 billion. For a company that will do $30 million in profits on $150 million in revenue, that's a nifty valuation!

And I'm surprised as you can tell from my previous blog post, along with a lot of Wall Street.

“We are pleased to take our Microsoft partnership to the next level,” said Owen Van Natta, vice president of operations and chief revenue officer at Facebook, in a press release announcing the deal. “We think this expanded relationship will allow Facebook to continue to innovate and grow as a technology leader and major player in social computing, as well as bring relevant advertising to the more than 49 million active users of Facebook.”

So now the question will be whether Microsoft is crazy, or merely crazy like a fox?

Which brings up an interesting comparison. Microsoft has to be very careful that it doesn't do to Facebook what News Corp did to MySpace. This was a great net property that needed to be "monetized," so News Corp filled MySpace with ads, and the site lost its "coolness" factor and the kids have abandoned it.

“Making this investment and expanding this partnership will position Microsoft and Facebook to better take advantage of advertising opportunities around the world, and is a great win for not only for our two companies, but also our collective users and advertisers,” said Kevin Johnson, president of the Platforms & Services Division at Microsoft, in a release. “We have partnered well over the past year and look forward to doing some exciting things together in the future. The opportunity to further collaborate as advertising partners is a big reason we have decided to take an equity stake, and is a strong statement of our confidence in the long-term economics of this partnership.”

Facebook now runs the risk of becoming Microsoft's financial flavor of the month. But with the deal, Microsoft captures a coolness factor all its own and can establish a "relevance" in the online world, Pacific Crest's Brendan Barnicle just told me.

But he's not sold on the idea that this is the right deal at the right time. Facebook could blossom into something big, but Microsoft appears to be paying through the nose on that gamble and it may turn into nothing at all.

At least the company finally beat Google on a deal, or so it seems. And that might be worth a "coolness" and "relevance" factor all its own.

Questions?  Comments?