Microsoft's About Face With Facebook--Is It In Writing?

On Monday, the first day of our on-air coverage following the collapse of the Microsoft/Yahoo negotiations, we were rife with speculation about what, if anything, Microsoft might do next.

We talked about every possibility: News Corp. and Microsoft blending their online businesses with Microsoft relying heavily on the MySpace property; Microsoft joining forces with Time Warner's AOL about some kind of partnership; Microsoft increasing its stake in Facebook or buying the company outright.

Now there's word that, wait for it; wait for it, Microsoft's bankers have "been in touch" with Facebook, or "contacted" Facebook, or thought about Facebook, or logged on to Facebook, and the wires are going crazy with what may or may not happen next.

I suppose it would be newsier if Microsoft decided NOT to contact Facebook. The story is on the Wall Street Journal's web site. It indicates that there are "no active discussions" between the two, that Microsoft put out "subtle" signals to Facebook to see if the company would be interested in a complete buy-out--which would build on the tiny equity investment Microsoft made in Facebook last year.

That $240 million stake in Facebook ascribed a $15 billion value to the social networking powerhouse.

But with no active discussions, and no comment from reps at either company, is there a "there" here? Nah. Or at least not yet.

Microsoft is sniffing around for an internet strategy, and while publicly, Microsoft executives--including Bill Gates himself--say they want to grow the company's online business organically, it stands to reason that Microsoft wants to talk to lots of potential partners.

As for me, I'm just working the phones trying to nail down who's returning those Microsoft calls; and what a potential deal with someone might really look like. Talk is cheap. As we learned from Yahoo , the news gets interesting when the offer is put in writing.

Questions? Comments?