Facing Up To Microsoft

Sam Face
Originally uploaded by Sammylee1

A couple of weeks ago I tried to "friend" Bill Gates on Facebook. Unfortunately, thus far at least, he has not accepted … but what surprised me about the "Microsoft Network" on Facebook was not that Bill Gates was there (fake or otherwise), but the NUMBER of Microsoft folk who were participating. A quick troll through the list of members shows some fairly senior folks who, by all accounts, are actively using the Facebook tools and widgets.

So it comes as no surprise to learn that Microsoft is interested in taking a stake in the Web 2.0 darling. Techcrunch has some great comments and commentary about this … but there is one interesting comment that set off some light bulbs in my head. Startup News suggests:

The company is barely making any money …
For $500 million you can buy another social network and still have chage left to buy your own customers …

To me, this is EXACTLY the reason that Facebook is a compelling acquisition target. Microsoft clearly have the technical ability to build a Facebook competitor should they wish … it is not the technology that they are after. With 66 million registered users, Facebook is a bargain $7.50 per user, making it a very cheap way of acquiring customers. I am being a little simplistic here, of course, but the decision to purchase Microsoft products for work or home is completely different from the thought process undertaken to join a social network. Microsoft already have a hold over our computers and office applications … now they are making a play for our hearts — moving into the space where we play. Makes for interesting times!