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Confirmed: Facebook Was Close to Being a Microsoft Brand

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As the saying goes, you don't get to 500 million friends without almost getting acquired by Microsoft.

Confirming what had been written in David Kirkpatrick's book The Facebook Effect, Microsoft Senior Director of Corporate Strategy and Acquisitions Fritz Lanman admitted that his company made a run for the blossoming social network in 2007. According to TechCrunch, he spoke of the offer this week while on stage at the Le Web conference.

Speaking with Le Web founder Le Meur, Lanman said, "Yeah we tried to acquire Facebook." He added, "Facebook had a lot of similarities to Microsoft back in the day."

To clarify, Lanman must've meant way back in the day.

Lanman echoed Kirkpatrick's book by saying Ballmer offered Zuckerberg and Co. $15 billion for the site. But after Zuckerberg declined the offer, Redmond settled on an investment of $240 million based on the $15 billion valuation. Lanman further speculated that Facebook could possibly equal Microsoft's valuation in the future.

Whether than entailed Facebook's rise or Microsoft's fall, Lanman didn't specify.

TechCrunch provided an excerpt from Kirkpatrick's book:

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer had flown to Palo Alto to visit his young counterpart twice. As Zuckerberg is wont to do, he took Ballmer on a long walk. Zuckerberg told Ballmer that Facebook was raising money at a $15 billion valuation. But Ballmer had come with something more sweeping in mind. "Why don't we just buy you for $15 billion?" he replied, according to a very knowledgeable source. Zuckerberg was unmoved even by this offer. "I don't want to sell the company unless I can keep control," said Zuckerberg, as he always did in such situations.

Ballmer took this reply as a sort of challenge. He went back to Microsoft's headquarters and concocted a plan intended to acquire Facebook in stages over a period of years to enable Zuckerberg to keep calling the shots. But Zuckerberg rejected all the overtures. What Ballmer finally agreed to instead was an advertising deal that included a provision for Microsoft to pay a huge amount, $240 million, for a sliver of Facebook, 1.6%. Microsoft's investment gave Facebook an implied value of $15 billion.

As for now, with Bing and Microsoft Docs playing nice with Facebook's API, Zuckerberg maintains a rich relationship with Microsoft -- more so than with Google, at least.
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