Microsoft just bought 1.6% of cool glow for 240 million dollars from the current darling of social networks, Facebook. That priced the latter at $15,000,000,000 or five hundred times expected earnings for 2007!
Now I actually really like Facebook. It’s clean, the guys running it are smart, and tons of people I know are really into it. They got a great audience, growing fast, and all that jazz. But an evaluation of five hundred times earnings?! If that doesn’t taste like bubble gum, I don’t know what does.
Facebook is certainly to be commended for getting as high an evaluation as they can. Bravo to them. They look like masterminds here. But what does Microsoft look like?
A 500x evaluation doesn’t exactly position them as financially shrewd. No, it feels like they’re trying to make a statement that they too can hang with the cool kids regardless of the cost. Regardless of even an obscene cost.
I think Microsoft would be wise to remember that trying to buy cool has a tendency of making you look even more like a dork. I guess they have to try something — anything — to improve their image to investors, entrepreneurs, future employees, and the media.
Maybe that’s also what’s behind the previous hoopla about Microsoft looking at companies heavily involved with open source software. CNet even pitched that we’d make the perfect candidate for that run.
In any case, you’d think that there’d be more critical coverage of this transaction in light of eBay’s write-down of the Skype purchase. In comparison, eBay’s buy looked like a steal. They got a cool media darling with current revenues of $400 million/year for just $2.6 billion a few years ago.
But that’s exactly the opposite of the story being played in some quarters. Reuters frames it as Microsoft beats Google. No they didn’t. Google beat Microsoft with a goading stick and got them to buy-in at bubble gum numbers. It’s Google and Facebook laughing all the way to the bank, not Microsoft.