Facebook is reportedly close to selling itself to Yahoo for about $1B. Although this is less than the $2B valuation Facebook was crowing about a few months back, it seems a shockingly high valuation for a property that could be reduced to irrelevancy by MySpace or whatever the next big thing in social networking turns out to be.
It's truism in dealmaking that once you've decided you want to do the deal, you need to get the ink on paper as quickly as possible. Until that happens, too many things outside of your control can cause the deal to fall apart. You'd think this concern would ring especially true for a company like Facebook, whose potential competitors have no barriers to entry and whose popularity is dependent upon the fickle tastes of people under the age of 25. Yet the WSJ reports that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg couldn't even be bothered to take phone calls over the weekend as negotiations wore on, due to his girlfriend being in town. Others think the company should take its time, hire bankers and get an auction going.
There are times to stretch things out, and perhaps the people at Facebook still think $2B (or close to it) is an attainable goal. It isn't. If they get an auction going they may find little interest. Now isn't the time to worry about leaving a few dollars on the table - I'd like to see the young Mr. Zuckerberg take the life-changing $1B deal rather than risk holding out for more.