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Facebook–Going It Alone or Goin’ Courting?

Because it’s Friday, I briefly contemplated just writing “FACEBOOK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” in this post and publishing it, but realized that I like having a job. So, instead, I’ll secure our status as the unofficial Facebook rumor blog and give you a few more of this week’s Facebook rumors today.

Six Billion Dollars?
Rumors are flying that Microsoft offered to buy Facebook for $6 billion this week. Of course, they could have offered six bajillion—Zuckerberg just ain’t selling.

The original author of the rumor, Henry Blodget, makes the important observation:

$6 billion’s a nice fat number, but it’s only 1/25th of Google’s valuation, and the Facebook folks clearly think they’re worth more than that.

On the other hand, it’s 200 times $30 million, the estimated earnings for Facebook this year (as reported by John Batelle).

Google Waiting for Facebook to Approach Them

Thanks to Jordan’s excellent coverage, Marketing Pilgrim has become the unofficial Facebook rumor blog and today we have more to share. Despite some suggesting Google should go ahead and acquire Facebook, it appears Sergey Brin is not in a mad rush to snap them up.

“If they come to us, we’d certainly be open to talking,” Brin said, answering a reporter’s question at the 25th annual Allen & Co. media deal-makers conference in Sun Valley, Idaho. “But I think they’re building a great company of their own.”

Hmm. We could fill a couple of posts with analysis of what Brin’s statement actually means. My guess is that Google knows that if they make the approach, they’ll likely have to pay a premium for Facebook – especially as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg seems happy to throw wild valuations at any potential suitor.

Facebook to Give Away Big Bucks

I’m really, really, really sorry. I know that I totally slipped yesterday, and didn’t report anything about Facebook. But don’t despair, all. I found more Facebook news today!

Tuesday, VC firm Bay Partners launched a program to fund Facebook platform programmers. The E-Commerce Times reports:

Dubbed the “AppFactory,” the program will grant awards of US$25,000 to $250,000 to Facebook developers using a fast-track approval process. The company hopes to make up to 50 such awards, Salil Deshpande, a partner at Bay Partners, told the E-Commerce Times.

“We don’t know how it will go,” Deshpande added. “The only constraint will be our bandwidth in terms of the time and effort it takes to evaluate, manage and nurture these projects.”

Social Media Initiative – Help us Get 1 Million Trees Planted for Free

My good friend Rob Key of Converseon has asked us to help spread the word about a worthwhile effort to plant as many as 1 million trees.

The Second Chance Trees Reforestation Project uses Second Life as a platform to teach visitors about the planet’s endangered rainforests and the dangers of deforestation. For every tree you buy and plant in Second Life, a real tree will be carefully planted in the real world.

The project has gotten the attention of American Express who have listed it as a Top 50 finalist for The Members Project contest, with the winner getting as much as $5 million to fund their efforts.

So, here’s how you can help FOR FREE!

Zillow Adds Social Features to Keep Ahead of Realtors

It seems real estate appraisal service Zillow is preparing to take on real estate agents by offering what they’ve so far failed to. While realtors might be making life a little difficult for Zillow, the company has decided to tap into social networks and offer services that I’ve not seen elsewhere.

Here’s what’s been added:

  • Neighborhood Pages – 6500 of them across 134 cities. Packed full with demographic data, neighborhood discussion forums (for all that gossip about the strange family down the street) and photo sharing.
  • Zillow Discussions – Yahoo Answers for home buyers.
  • New Home Page – more personalization options.

With the recent addition of Vanessa Fox, we fully expect to see a Zillow Owners Console soon, with the following:

Google and Facebook Linked Again

Here at Marketing Pilgrim, we always seem to be ahead of the curve. Yesterday, we mentioned an AdAge article that claimed that Facebook should have Google shaking in its boots. Today, Adotas and Red Herring have taken on the topic, the former advising Google to acquire Facebook and the latter stating that Google’s already working on its own solution.

Adotas thinks that Google should pursue Facebook as part of their “recent spending spree” (starting with YouTube, which confirmed 8 months ago, but seems much longer ago than that). However, Adotas notes Google’s current agreement with MySpace, which they say “is responsible for about 11% of Google’s search traffic.” Adotas says Google should pursue Facebook without endangering that agreement (which has a noncompete clause).

Ning Secures $44M to Scale Personalized Social Networks

Forget Facebook, the real action in social networks is the ability to build and brand your own! has been doing that for a couple of years and has today announced they’ve raised $44 million in “Series C” funding.

Co-founder Marc Andreessen explains where the money will be put to use:

We will be investing that money in our business — in scaling our operations to accommodate our traffic and growth; in our product design and development efforts; and in our platform evangelism and support programs. Apart from those investments, we plan on staying as lean and focused as we possibly can.

Having consulted with Ning, I’ve become a huge fan of their service and pretty much every client I speak to gets a recommendation to consider branding their own social network. Even large corporations are surprised to learn they can have their own version of Flickr or YouTube in just minutes!