Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Will Facebook Say “Da” to Russian Investors?

russia-with-loveHere’s the newest twist in the Facebook valuation/funding saga: Russian investors have reportedly offered to sink up to $350 million in Mark Zuckerberg’s social network–at two different valuations. The Wall Street Journal says investment group Digital Sky Technologies has offered to spend $200 million on a chunk of the company’s preferred stock at a $10 billion valuation and to buy up to $150 million worth of the company’s common stock at a $6.5 billion valuation.

Reached for comment, Facebook spokesperson Brandee Barker offered up the boilerplate no comment: “Facebook is a private company, so as a matter of policy, we don’t typically share details about our financial plans or comment on rumor and speculation.”

But everyone else has been speculating about the value that Facebook and outside investors place on the company, and whether Facebook needs to raise any money at all.

We do know that in 2007, Microsoft (MSFT) beat out Google (GOOG) for the right to invest some $250 million in the Facebook, placing a $15 billion valuation on the company’s preferred stock. Preferred stock is typically more expensive than common stock because it gives owners the ability to recoup their money before other investors. Facebook later raised another $60 million from Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing and $10 million or so from the Samwer brothers of Germany.

And various reports have suggested that employees and others who own Facebook common stock have been recently selling it on the private market for prices that value the company in the $4 billion range.

Facebook has repeatedly said that it doesn’t need additional cash to keep going and that it expects to generate $500 million in revenue this year and begin breaking even in 2010. Last year, the company felt flush enough to offer to buy Twitter for $500 million–$100 million of which would have been in cash.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work