It sure looks like it Microsoft pays $240 million for a stake that values Facebook at an astounding 150x of revenue - $15 billion dollars.
A week later, Google announces Open Social, a competitive platform with partners including LinkedIn, Hi5, Friendster, Salesforce.com, Oracle, iLike, Flixster, RockYou, and Slide. That deal that took longer than a week to structure.
Plan A or Plan B? Was Google ever serious about Facebook, or did they just want to see Microsoft invest more of their battered prestige in another closed platform?
Probably they didn't much care how it came out. Google could have paid the $240 million just as easily as Microsoft. Money wasn't the sticking point. Microsoft promised something that Google didn't. Microsoft must have promised to keep Facebook closed.
Bet it was fun to see how far a-desperate-for-coolness Microsoft would go to "beat" Google.
Is Facebook a platform or a launch platform? Facebook has a lot of traction as a platform for software developers. Google's Open Social platform takes advantage of that. According to Marc Andreessen
Today's Facebook app developers just got very good news -- they will be able to take all of the work they did to . . . as many as 100 million users just via the initial Open Social partners, more than twice as many users as Facebook has today.
It looks like Open Social is not simply drafting on Facebook's momentum, but actually looking to subsume it into the larger audience. Today, Facebook has the momentum. But as the Open Social community builds more developers will have to choose who to develop for first. It may take a year or two, but the momentum will shift.
The Storage Bits take Facebook helps keep Microsoft in the Internet advertising game. But they've been out played by Google. Microsoft over payed for a sliver of Facebook and in a year Ballmer will look like he was caught short yet again.
Comments welcome. If you disagree, why?