Facebook.com is for sale, and its young owners have rejected a $750
million offer with hopes of landing a $2 billion deal, according to a
BusinessWeek story posted online Tuesday.
On the campus where the social networking website first
launched, students wondered whether Facebook.com would retain its
appeal to undergraduates if the founders sell their start-up venture to
a conglomerate. And industry analysts are wondering whether the
Facebook.com team has passed on a lucrative deal.
Meanwhile, Facebook.com spokesman Chris R. Hughes '06 would neither confirm nor deny that the site is for sale.
“The BusinessWeek stories that ran last week and the rumors
that are flying around on the internet are just that: rumors,” Hughes
said in a phone interview yesterday.
Online social networking behemoth MySpace.com was sold for
$580 million to News Corp. last year. MySpace received three times as
many unique visitors in February as Facebook, according to market
research firm comScore.
But Facebook.com’s highly coveted access to college students and recent alumni might draw larger offers.
The chairman of the internet publishing firm Federated Media,
John L. Battelle, wrote on his weblog: “Me? I’d take the $750 million.”
But Battelle, who is the author of the book “The Search: How Google and
Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture,”
said in a phone interview from his home in San Rafael, Calif.,
yesterday that some young Web entrepreneurs who turned down
multimillion-dollar offers early on reaped rewards in the long run.
“You do not sell out early if you believe your company is
going to be huge and going to change the world,” Battelle said, citing
the example of Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, who declined
to sell their site in its infancy. Both are now worth an estimated $11
billion each, according to Forbes magazine.
“On the other hand, there are plenty of people who sold too
late or wish they had sold when there was an offer on the table,”
For instance, the pioneering social networking site
Friendster.com did reject takeover bids but has seen its popularity
decline, as MySpace and Facebook have gained ground.
Friendster’s fizzle raises the question of whether Facebook.com can maintain its site traffic.
“I think if it sold out, I would not use it for the same
reasons I would not use MySpace, because it would be stalker trash,”
said Joshua H. St. Louis ’09. “It would just be an advertisement page
for corporate America.”
As of now, though, the site has a distinct
undergraduate-oriented appeal, said Lisa C. Rosenfeld ’09. “It’s nice
that the people in charge of it right now can make changes from the
point of view of a student,” she said.
Luke A. Langford ’06-’08 expressed strong support for the
founders of Facebook.com. “If they want to sell, I’d say good for them.
They had a good idea. It became popular. They should cash in on it
while it’s still hot,” Langford said.
And Facebook.com’s success sparks school spirit in some students.
“I have a sense of pride because [founder] Mark Zuckerberg
represented us in a respectable manner,” said Robert J. Ross ’09. Ross
said that if the site changes ownership, “I don’t think that would
prevent people already on Facebook from using it.”
—Staff writer Joyce Y. Zhang can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.