Facebook opens up and turns down big exit – can this be for real?

Dead2.0 has just written an excellent piece on Facebook. It is long and well worth the read but there are two key points I want to focus on here:
– Facebook apparently turned down a $750m offer from Viacom
– They are opening their network up to everybody (previously they were exclusively for people with college email addresses)

I am all for aiming high but surely there comes a time to take profits?

A couple of reasons why that might be now for Facebook:
– It would be a great exit! The biggest in the category
– To kick on to the next level they need to open up and compete with MySpace who are 10x their size
– The first exit in a category is usually the largest. I was invested in a market leading portal software business five years ago that was the 4th or 5th in its sector to exit. Each sale was at approx half the value of the last so you can work out where we ended up 🙂

For me dominating a category is the way forward for social networks and I hate to see Facebook (which I have always liked) moving away from that.

  • Thanks for the kind words about the piece Nic. What’s amazing is that none of what either of us is saying is rocket science. Viacom’s offer was extremely rich (as you saw from my cost per user analysis) so I’ve always wondered how it was rejected. Facebook’s initial investors would have gotten more than the 5x – 10x returns they were looking for when they made their investment and the founders would have gone from dorm rooms to being amongst the richest founders under the age of 25 in less than 3 years. Facebook has top-tier VC backing so I’m just itching to know what happened. You’re a VC and you’re questioning how it was rejected. I don’t give much weight to anonymous comments posted on blogs, but I once saw somebody mention that Mark Zuckerberg is the person who rejected the offer. He apparently still owns 50% of the company and wants to be the youngest self-made billionaire ever, hence the $2 billion valuation they demand. I don’t know if this is true, but if it is, it could represent the ultimate epitomy of greed.

  • Thanks for the kind words about the piece Nic. What’s amazing is that none of what either of us is saying is rocket science. Viacom’s offer was extremely rich (as you saw from my cost per user analysis) so I’ve always wondered how it was rejected. Facebook’s initial investors would have gotten more than the 5x – 10x returns they were looking for when they made their investment and the founders would have gone from dorm rooms to being amongst the richest founders under the age of 25 in less than 3 years. Facebook has top-tier VC backing so I’m just itching to know what happened. You’re a VC and you’re questioning how it was rejected. I don’t give much weight to anonymous comments posted on blogs, but I once saw somebody mention that Mark Zuckerberg is the person who rejected the offer. He apparently still owns 50% of the company and wants to be the youngest self-made billionaire ever, hence the $2 billion valuation they demand. I don’t know if this is true, but if it is, it could represent the ultimate epitomy of greed.