After a lot of rumours flying around the internet about Facebook looking for investors or buyers and the rumour being continually shot down; today sees an announcement that Microsoft have invested USD$240 million dollars in Facebook. The $240 million dollars is nothing short of a minority stake in Facebook, which has now been officially valued at USD$15 billion dollars, yes you read that correctly billion dollars.
While everything was still on the rumourmill, it was expected that both Google and Microsoft would have been bidding for a stake in Facebook. What has surprised the industry to some extent, is that Microsoft actually won the deal. Of course, this investment has now extended the marketing agreement between Microsoft and Facebook, which now sees Microsoft as the supplier of user centric advertising on the Facebook platform globally, where as it was previously limited to the United States. Of course, Facebook haven’t closed the door on further investment opportunities – we might see at least one other deep pocketed company come to the table yet.
While I appreciate how important this investment was for Microsoft, in a vain attempt to keep themselves in the online marketing game – I haven’t yet joined the dots on how it is going to work. As most savvy internet users will attest, the Microsoft search platform via MSN and its successor Live is some what limited. To add insult to injury, the advertising platform that Microsoft have been building seems so lacking compared to Google, that Microsoft are only recently realising just how far behind they are.
None the less, it’s good for everyone to see some healthy competition in the online advertising space. I expect there will be a lot of people watching this space to see how it develops over the coming months; for all we know this might be the starting point for Microsoft to launch a full frontal assault against Google.