Facebook valuation in eye of the beholder

The $15 billion valuation that Microsoft appeared to bestow on Facebook in 2007 provoked some scepticism – including within Facebook itself.

It turns out, the privately-held social networking firm has a much more conservative sense of self-worth, and puts its value at a one-fourth of the Microsoft figure.

According to redacted court documents obtained, and somehow decoded by the AP, Facebook valued itself at $3.7 billion in June, when it was in court over a dispute with a rival social networking site.

Sure, Microsoft invested $240 million for a 1.6 percent stake in Facebook in October 2007. But that was for Series D preferred stock. So the $35.90 price per Facebook share value implied by the deal does not apply to the rest of Facebook’s equity.

In fact, Facebook lawyers told the court, the company actually values its shares at $8.88 share, the AP says. What’s happened to the share price during the economic slowdown since that time is anybody’s guess.

You’ve come a long way, baby

Facebook turns five today, and founder Mark Zuckerberg took a moment yesterday to reflect on the social networking site’s journey from a Harvard dorm room to an online hangout spot for 150 million people. It hasn’t been easy, Zuckerberg wrote in a blog post.

But “the challenge motivates us to keep innovating and pushing technical boundaries to produce better ways to share information,” he wrote.

And so in the spirit of sharing, Facebook members can “Give Thanks” to their online buddies via a free virtual gift today.

Facebook hotter than MySpace: Yahoo CEO Bartz

Facebook is hot, MySpace is not.  We didn’t say it, Yahoo’s new chief executive Carol Bartz did.

During Yahoo’s quarterly earnings call on Tuesday, one analysts asked Bartz what Yahoo’s strategy is for going after the younger demographic, i.e. the generation whose lives play out on social networks.

“That was one of the questions I asked the (Yahoo) board when I was speaking to them in November and December,” Bartz replied. “I have a 20-year-old and also two kids in their late 20s, so I’m very familiar with the Facebooks of the world and before that, MySpace, and see what the kids do. So I’m very curious about that demographic.”

from Fan Fare:

MySpace Cafe at Sundance. Is it Yahoo II: the sequel?

USA/Years ago at the Sundance Film Festival, Yahoo! sponsored a small cafe where festivalgoers could drop in -- if they were on the list -- and grab a quick bite to eat. But over time, it seems Yahoo's fame and fortune as an Internet portal have receded, and in it's place popped up social networking site MySpace. And in recent years, MySpace has sponsored the cafe at Sundance.

Now, it seems that in its fifth year (2009) MySpace is facing the keen competitive threat of social networking site Facebook. So, when we sat down with MySpace CEO Chris DeWolfe in the MySpace Cafe, we couldn't help but note the irony. Could MySpace be "Yahoo II: The Sequel"? (We couldn't resist the movie pun. It is Sundance, after all). DeWolfe laughed. He doesn't see it that way at all and, in fact, he said the outlook for MySpace appears bright.

"During the first half of our fiscal year, we are up (in revenues) year over year, and we're profitable. We're cautiously optimistic over the next 6 months," he said about the business climate. "The overall advertising marketing, in general, both online and offline is softening ... how that affects us in three or four months is really difficult to say ... (but) the economic downturn during Bear Stearns and the financial crisis, we've done great through all that, and again we're up year over year."

from Shop Talk:

Dump 10 Facebook ‘friends,’ win a Whopper

JAPAN BURGER/If ever you needed a reason to clear the dead wood from your Facebook posse, here it is: Burger King will give you a free Whopper hamburger every time you cut 10 of your "fair-weather web friends."

But beware. While Facebook lets you anonymously eliminate your "friends," the Burger King application notifies them when you "sacrifice" them in your quest for free fast food.

The Whopper Sacrifice ad campaign, spotted by Adweek, sends a message alerting your former friend that the sentiment you carry for him or her is nothing compared with the sizzle of a Whopper.

Facebook-Twitter: the deal that could have been

Microsoft/Yahoo, Samsung/SanDisk, Electronic Arts/Take-Two….Facebook/Twitter?

According to Kara Swisher of All Things Digital, Facebook had talked for several weeks about buying micro-blogging site Twitter for $500 million in stock, and then gave up on the idea about three weeks ago.

The sticking point apparently was price — whether the deal valued Facebook shares too highly. “But, more important, it seems, was a feeling among Twitter investors and execs that the start-up should still take a shot at building its revenues-there are none right now-as well as it had done at building its growth,” Swisher writes.

Dragging and dropping with MySpace

At MySpace, change is a gradual affair. News Corp’s online social network on Monday is introducing Profile 2.0, which it calls the “next step in iterative global site redesign, enabling millions of users to opt-in and customize the appearance of their profiles using an innovative new drag-and-drop user interface.”

I’ve spent the last 13 years working on getting my PhD in translating tech PR to English, but I’m not quite fluent yet. Loosely rendered, this means that it will get easier for MySpace members to change the way their profiles look by moving various parts around their computer screens.

Here’s what else they’re doing with Profile 2.0: People can display different kinds of information to different categories. That could mean that you share your weekend bong-and-bender photos with your extracurricular pals while saving the work information for prospective employers to see (unless you’re going to work at one of those places that counts hard-partying social activity as a prerequisite).

Zuckerberg, edition Web 2.0

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg may have traded in his Adidas flip-flops for tennis shoes, but he was as coy as ever when it came to talking about the social network.  On stage at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco, host John Batelle asked Zuckerberg about Dubai, referring to rumors that Facebook CFO Gideon Yu was in the Middle East seeking financing from the sheikhs.

“I’ve never been to Dubai,” Zuckerberg said. “I’m told it’s nice at this time of the year.”

Never one to give up easily, Batelle dug deeper: “Gideon must have told you that.”

Google-Yahoo vs. Department of Justice

The odds of a Google-Yahoo Web advertising deal are looking increasingly bad. The Wall Street Journal says that both sides may just drop the deal as early as next week. The reason: The Justice Department wants too many darn compromises.


The option to scrap the deal has been on the table before, but Google in particular has begun considering it more seriously as Justice Department talks haven’t progressed. One sticking point has been the department’s discussion of having the companies sign a consent decree stating the terms of the partnership. That would subject their compliance to continuing oversight by a judge.

But dropping it next week? That seems so soon. Well, paidContent speculates that the timing could be linked to Tuesday’s presidential election. 

It’s 8:00 p.m. — do you know where your TV is?

television-set.jpgThe new prime-time TV season is starting and that means all eyes are on Nielsen ratings. While that’s the case every fall, this one is a bit different — the industry is recovering from a writers’ strike that threw the 2007-08 season into disarray.

AdAge points out, for instance, that serialized dramas already appear to be having trouble getting their footing back. It says two NBC dramas, “Chuck” and “Life,” both opened the season to sharply lower viewing numbers for the 18-49 demographic than they did a year ago.

Both are indicative of how many serialized dramas lost media momentum last year due to the strike, and how hard it will be to rebuild it without the buildup of free media any new show receives