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Rumor Mill: Microsoft & Google Vie for Facebook’s Hand in Marriage

image The New York Post is bold in its prediction that Facebook will announce which suitor will win its hand in marriage, in the next 48 hours.

It seems it’s a two-horse race with Google and Microsoft both vying to buy a 5-10% stake in the social network.

The Post suggest Google’s trying to run-up the price to try and scare off Microsoft. It doesn’t appear to be working…

…Microsoft is hanging tough, despite recent comments by CEO Steve Ballmer that social-networking sites were “a bit faddish.” One source said the Redmond, Wash.-based company is “willing to give any valuation possible” to keep Facebook away from Google.

Is Virtual World Advertising Harmful to Kids?

Execs from social networking sites recently met and talked about marketing to children. The question was raised in a series of articles about who is watching out for children and pointing out that there are no standards in this arena.

Marketing to children isn’t new. However, social networks have a strong pull because they are so engaging and it’s easy to spend a lot of time interacting on a site. It’s more than passive viewing like other forms of entertainment, like watching tv. Online it’s even easier to blur lines between what’s real and what isn’t. That’s true even for adults.

Chinese Government Censoring US Sites?

Last week TechCrunch told how the Chinese Government was redirecting Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft searches to its own search engine Baidu. The post had 145 comments when I last visited. Paris-based Reporters Without Borders noted that YouTube and Google blog search were blocked along with search engines.

Google’s response to an inquiry by Search Engine Land about blocking sites and redirecting them :

“We’ve had numerous reports that Google.cn and other search engines have been blocked in China and traffic redirected to other sites. While this is clearly unfortunate, we’ve seen this happen before and are confident that service will be restored to our users in the very near future.”

Others chimed in with different theories:

Funeral Home Plans a Social Network

Ok, this post has nothing to do with funeral homes, but I bet the headline made you go “huh?”

That’s the reaction I had when reading news that natural language search engine Hakia will launch a new social network next week.

…called “Meet Others.” It will give you the option, from a search results page, to jump to a page on the service where everyone who searches for the topic can communicate.

Why? All I’ve heard over the past few years is how searchers are scared of sharing their search data with the search engines and the rest of the world. Now Hakia wants us to share our search for “how to rob an ATM” with others?

MySpace Platform Coming Soon

It looks like they were both right: TechCrunch was right in saying that MySpace was planning a platform to rival Facebook’s; Valleywag was right in saying it won’t premiere this week.

MySpace CEO Chris DeWolfe (speaking alongside Rupert Murdoch) announced yesterday that they “are opening our platform in the next couple of months,” according to Reuters.

The article has a few details about the pending platform (all emphasis added):

DeWolfe said he was seeking to create a far more lucrative environment for outside developers on MySpace than currently exists on Facebook, where so far advertising opportunities for independent application developers are limited. . . .

Importantly, the company plans to give developers control over advertising that runs on the Web pages they create to host new services on MySpace. “There is [sic] going to be paid revenue opportunities for all the developers,” DeWolfe said. . . .

Google Ads on Facebook: Via Developers

It’s no secret: Facebook’s platform might be the social networking development of the year. But so far, not very many have successfully built careers on developing third party apps for the site. Google might be doing something to change all that.

Venture Beat reports that:

Google is actively recruiting third-party developers with applications on Facebook to run Adsense ads within applications pages, VentureBeat has learned.

These aren’t just any old Adsense ads, according to our sources — developers have been inserting plain-vanilla Adsense into Facebook applications since the developer platform launched in May. Now, Google is specifically building this network for advertisers who want to be on Facebook, and will let advertisers run their ads across all Facebook apps that sign up for it.

The Generations Network Acquired for $300 Million

Today it was announced that privately owned The Generations Network is being acquired by Spectrum Equity Investors for $300 million. The asking price was $500 million. The Generations Network is the company that runs Ancestry.com, MyFamily.com and other geneology web sites. It’s based in Provo, Utah.

Their last round of financing valued the company at $100 million. TechCrunch reports that they are making $150 million or so in yearly revenue and that they’ve heard the company is hugely profitable. But there have been chronic cycles of layoffs and morale has seemed low at the company for quite some time. A few months ago the the CFO was laid off and there were offers and speculation that a buyout was coming.