A decade ago this week, on Oct. 24, 2007, Facebook announced that Microsoft would invest $240 million in the fast-growing social network, expanding an advertising partnership between the companies.
It was a big deal at the time.
For one, because Microsoft had competed for the deal with Google — this was back when Microsoft competed with Google all the time — and won. But mostly because the investment assigned Facebook a $15 billion valuation that, to many, seemed shockingly high.
Remember, this was just the beginning of the mobile boom — the iPhone had come out months earlier — when people still said things like “Web 2.0”. And many thought Facebook, which had 50 million users and was not yet four years old, was at best a fad.
For instance, see Recode founder Kara Swisher’s piece at the time, which called the situation “laughable” and Microsoft “seriously desperate.”
Turned out, many people were wrong.
As we have learned, Facebook was not a fad. It was on the verge of becoming one of the most important communication products in history, and one of the best-run companies in Silicon Valley.
Now Facebook is worth $508 billion, up more than 30x from its 2007 level. It has more than 2 billion users, up 40x from where it was ten years ago.
It’s hard to argue that investing early in Facebook helped Microsoft, which never embraced the advertising business the deal was supposed to accelerate. And the company’s resurgence under CEO Satya Nadella has been all about software, not social.
But it’s still one of the all-time great corporate investments.