Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Microsoft Buys 1.6 Percent Stake In Facebook - TechCrunch

Well, it a story of numbers and eyeballs equaling investment value. In this case, to the tune of a 1.6 percent stake that causes Facebook to be valued at $15 Billion.

The buyer of that portion of the company is Microsoft -- not Google -- and for $240 million. What Microsoft will do with Facebook is another guess. But for the present, Michael Arrington at TechCrunch liveblogged the press conference today. Here's the result:

Call Notes

Call is beginning at 2:07 pm

Viveck Varma, MS, Owen Van Natta, Facebook, Kevin Johnson, Facebook, Brandee Barker, Facebook are on the call.

Viveck is saying the press release below has minor errors and will be re-issued. We will update it as it becomes available. He’s actually reading the entire release to the call participants.

200,000 new users register for Facebook every day.

Microsoft ad deal was extended to 2011 early this year.

Owen and Kevin:

Owen is saying this investment will help Facebook grow. They have nearly 50 million active users. This alliance will help them create the best user experience.

Kevin - “this deal signals a major advertising syndication win for Microsoft.” This is a “win-win-win.”

Now taking questions

Q: How do you support valuation?

Vivech: Online advertising is $40b/year, will grow to $80b per year. Equity stake in facebook is a strong statement of confidence in MS’ ad platform and in facebook. If you look at FB growth and think that they will get to 200 million users in future, combine that with monetization opportunity along with modest rev/user/year, the valuation is supported.

Q: Signal a bigger partnership around other products?

A: Nothing specific, but the partners will be doing a lot more together over time.

Q: Why Microsoft over Google?

A: (Owen) We were fortunate to choose from partners. We have existing relationship with MS and we had the opportunity to expand it.

Q: Any new restrictions on platform developers?

A: No new restrictions

Q: (mine) Any other investors in this round?

A: No comment, not saying one way or the other (JMA note: this suggests there may be other investors even beyond existing ones).

Q: Will we see any reciprocity? Any FB apps integrated into any MS properties?

A: Not announcing anything right now.

Q: Josh Quitner - who else was interested in investing?

A: Not announcing anything.

Q: Why did MS only take a 1.6% stake? Does this money affect FB IPO plans?

A: No real answer. Investment was the best fit for both companies.

Q: Is this deal just for banner ads?

A: partnership extends across adcenter platform for MS, not disclosing anything around web search advertising. Deal does not include web search ads like Google/Myspace deal.

Q: Any minimum payment that is guaranteed under ad deal? If so, will it be disclosed?

A: Viveck is saying they are very pleased with current deal, but strategic deal, way collaborating together, equity position provides economic and strategic value of overall partnership. “We feel very good about the deal.” Owen is saying that they want to focus on innovation and user experience, and this deal allows them to do this.

Q: (Om Malik) What kind of performance on FB from previous ad efforts? What will FB use the money for?

A: Viveck: we continue to see monetization improve, many initiatives underway to drive it higher. We’re seeing great progress on deal so far. Won’t discuss specifics on click throughs, etc., both parties have agreed to keep that confidential. At a high level, both parties see monetization on an eCPM basis improve. Owen: We’ll use the capital to continue to fund innovation and growth; we plan to expand employee base dramatically next year to 700 employees; doubling user base every six months; international growth is very important.

Q: How did deal come together? Also, what kind of collaboration between two companies? How deep will it be?

A: Owen: we’ve been working with MS for over a year, constantly talking about evolving partnership. MS is doing a huge amount of building around adcenter.

MS is Facebook’s exclusive advertising partner, expanding from U.S. to global in today’s announcement.

Q: Does adcenter have access to profile data in serving ads?

A: user trust is core, as is providing highly relevant ads. want users to feel like trust is not violated in any way.

Call is ending at 2:38 pm PST.

Donnie McClurkin Not Anti-Gay - Barack Obama Not To Attend "Embrace The Change" Tour

After much yelling and screaming from some bloggers, Senator Barack Obama decided not to attend the "Embrace The Change" tour the campaign is sponsoring. But the tour goes on.

The idea of the concert tour was to reach out to the religious community, but the opponents to the idea of the concert looked at the record of Donnie McClurkin. The claim of these bloggers is that Donnie McClurkin is anti-gay.

The problem is they're wrong.

This is what the Chicago Tribune wrote:

Gospel singer says he is not anti-gay
By Kelley L. Carter | Tribune staff reporter
7:13 PM CDT, October 23, 2007

Gospel music superstar Donnie McClurkin says he was surprised to wake up Tuesday morning to a media firestorm.

The 47-year-old Grammy Award-winning musician is scheduled to perform this weekend at Sen. Barack Obama's three-day concert series in South Carolina. But in the wake of accusations by a gay-rights group that McClurkin falsely asserts that homosexuality is a choice, bloggers are calling for the Democratic presidential candidate to cancel the singer's Sunday night appearance, saying McClurkin's views are anti-gay and incite hate.

McClurkin told The Associated Press on Monday that "sexuality, everything is a matter of choice." But on Tuesday he told the Tribune that his ideals, and most importantly his ministry, were severely misconstrued.

"I don't believe that even from a religious point of view that Jesus ever discriminated toward anyone, nor do I," McClurkin said in an exclusive interview with the Tribune. "Most of the things that were said were totally out of context and then other things weren't true."

"My only concern is to be in place with Sen. Obama in unity and bring all the factors together for the sake of change," he said. "That's my only thing. Of course some agents have twisted it as though he [Obama] were embracing a racist or a Nazi, and that is anything but true."

McClurkin and Obama first connected last month in California at an Oprah Winfrey fundraiser for the Illinois senator.

"I believe in his stance. I believe in his platform and his agenda. So when they asked me if I would be a part of it, there was no problem," said McClurkin, who has performed at both parties' conventions and identifies himself as a Democrat. "We don't have to agree on everything, but we do have to agree on the main thing: that there needs to be change and I believe he is the candidate to bring it."

For years, McClurkin has talked from the pulpit about how he was raped by a male family member as a child. It was that act, he has said, that sent him into living as a gay man for the better part of 20 years. He now says he is straight and that his ministry is open to those who say they no longer want to live as a gay person. What he doesn't do, he says, is crusade against homosexuality.

"There's never been a statement made by me about curing homosexuality. People are using that in order to incite anger and to twist my whole platform on it. There's no crusade for curing it or to convert everyone. This is just for those who come to me and ask for change."

I think what's happened is some of these liberal bloggers are just plain stupid, and don't look into things. They just shoot off their mouths. This is combined with some Gay activists who struggle to compare themselves with those who are Black, using a "Straight White Male Centric" point of view.

That's where a Straight White Male is viewed as normal, and everyone else is not, so from that perspective, a Gay person can compare themselves to someone Black.

But it's a crock.

The simple fact is that being Gay is a choice. Being of a skin color is not. Just because a person choses to be Gay does not mean their civil rights should be violated. But it is a choice.

I've dated women who said they were Lesbian, has sex, then got married, or in one case, was married, then Lesbian, then dated me.

If your head's spinning, think about mine!

After Seeing Mark Cuban Dance, Marie Osmond Faints - Video

Well, if you saw Mark Cuban's nerdie dance number, you'd faint too. He was booted. Here's the video...

Barack Obama Rally Boston 10/23/07

Senator Obama was endorsed by Mass Governor Deval Patrick at a huge rally in Boston Common. Here's the video of Governor Patrick's speech: