Facebook is Poked by Corporate Friends

Yahoo! comes a-calling—But are they in a relationship? It's complicated.

Facebook.com has resumed serious acquisition talks with Yahoo! to sell itself for a price tag that may approach $1 billion, The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday.

Although neither Facebook nor Yahoo has confirmed the report, Yahoo’s stock rose 0.5 percent to $25.76 when the news appeared in yesterday morning’s Journal. Rumors that Facebook was in talks with Yahoo, Viacom, and Microsoft have been floating around for months.

“I would never say that at no point in the future would we go public or become part of a larger company...but what I would say is, it’s not our priority,” the social networking website’s founder, Mark E. Zuckerberg, formerly of the Class of 2006, told the Journal.

Facebook has in the past held acquisition discussions with Microsoft and Viacom, as well as Yahoo, according to the Journal. The corporations have been attracted to the site because it provides them access to a young demographic. In fact, the site tied with beer as the second most “in” thing among college students in a recent poll conducted by Student Monitor, a New Jersey-based research firm.

Yahoo in particular is struggling to win back a share in the advertising market that is dominated by rival search engine Google.

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation recently purchased Facebook’s closest competitor, MySpace.com, for $650 million, a move that drew attention to the vast advertising potential of social-networking sites.

Representatives from Facebook could not be reached for comment yesterday.

And while one corporation may buy Facebook, another has been using the social networking site to build brand loyalty as a new crop of freshmen enter the College.

Chase Manhattan Bank offered students free rides around campus in ten pedicabs bearing “Chase +1” logos urging them to join the bank’s Facebook group, according to Chase +1 Marketing Manager Paolo Spidaliere.

Erik Geisler, the chief operating officer of Noise Marketing—Chase Manhattan’s student operations—said Facebook was “obviously the best media partner” because it is “simply the dominant college web site.”

Thus far, more than 20,000 students have joined Chase’s Facebook group. The pedicab service will be available until next week, when they move to MIT.