Microsoft CFO on Facebook: Honestly, What’d You Expect Me to Say?

Published on November 13, 2007
by John Paczkowski

No surprises here. The incredulity with which the industry views the $15 billion valuation given Facebook after Microsoft’s investment in the site does not extend to the offices of Microsoft Chief Financial Officer Chris Liddell. And why would it, when the consequences of not toeing the party line at Microsoft are likely being hanged from it by the neck until dead?

So in an interview with the Seattle Post Intelligencer, Liddell spent a fair bit of time defending Microsoft’s investment in Facebook and the company’s metastasizing valuation, though he surely knows as well as anyone that to be worth $15 billion, Facebook would have to generate about $2.5 billion in revenue in three years.

Obviously, I feel comfortable with the transaction we’ve done, and I was involved in it. I think you have to look at the investment not only in the context of the dollar investment but the commercial transaction. I think there’s a great example of finance taking a role in that and thinking about the holistic aspect of what we’re trying to do in the online services, how Facebook fits into it, and how a dual investment-commercial transaction is a very powerful way of creating a partnership.

“So I’m really comfortable with the overall transaction. The $15 billion number is a big number. But can I see realistic scenarios where the company could be worth more than that? Yes, I could. It’s a big call, but it’s a very good one strategically. … It’s a great example of where some of the creative thinking of the business and finance people collectively came to a result which was very good.”

About what you’d expect him to say, right? Except for that one bit about scenarios in which Facebook might be worth more than $15 billion, which is a little, you know, frightening.

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