Lot’s of grumbling about Facebook being valued at $15 billion and “how could Microsoft do this to us?”. Let’s be clear about something, Microsoft didn’t pay $15b, they paid $240 million out of their well stocked bank vault for pole position and, as Jim Long speculated, it doubtful they spent much time on the valuation. Will Price made the most salient point about this in questioning why FB would do this to themselves considering they have made their future employees options worthless.
Think about that for just a minute, if you already have options in FB the news that the company is worth $15b in that calculation (and it’s unavoidable irrespective of what people think FB is really worth, company valuation insofar as options calculation is a rigid event driven process) is great. I would imagine there were a lot of private wealth managers descending on FB HQ to tell employees how they could collar their options even though there is no market for them at the moment.
If you have yet to be hired by FB this news is no good news because it’s not like FB is going to give you $10m in options for being a senior product manager. I can only imagine some of the awkward conversations FB has been having with prospective employees about options these days. Basically, FB made it a lot harder for themselves to hire good people who understand cap table math.
I was on a blog hiatus at the time of the Microsoft's investment in Facebook but I can tell you that I was baffled at how many people were looking at that transaction through the wrong lens. I kept hearing about the "absurdity" of the $15B valuation as though that valuation has any real-world value. As Jeff says so well, the REALITY is that Microsoft used an infinitesimal amount of its cash hoard to secure:
- A relationship with the fastest growing social network
- A call option on potential future negotiations with Facebook
- A much needed "win" against Google
Now, there are also plenty of reasons why Facebook agreed to the deal, but Jeff (channeling Will Price) does bring up an interesting point as to what this does for Facebook's ability to hire in the future. Then again, that's a problem that all companies face that scale. I'm not a VC, but intuitively it strikes me that it's rare for employee #500 to get rich on stock options at any company. Maybe my VC friends can put some meat on those bones?
Note: This is not a
recommendation to buy or sell MSFT or any other
security, but is
personal analysis to foster discussion for informational purposes only.
At the time of this writing, I and/or funds I maintain discretionary
control over, did maintain a long equity position in Microsoft but reserve the right to alter our holdings at any time. We also may, at
times, carry derivative options on underlying
positions as a hedge.
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