The long-awaited Microsoft-Facebook linkup was announced today, with my neighbors here in Redmond ponying up $240M for a minuscule 1.6% stake in Facebook.
While this deal values the fast-growing social networking site at $15B, I doubt valuation was much of an issue for Microsoft. Yes, it's huge for Facebook to get a massive infusion of cash with only nominal dilution, but Microsoft has more nuanced concerns. Whether MSFT gets a decent return on the quarter-billion invested is of far less concern than getting linkage with Facebook and beating out Google. Besides an expansion of an extant advertising deals, the remaining scope of the MSFT-Facebook linkage hasn't been disclosed.
Bottom line? Huge win for Facebook, although it won't be raising more capital at this valuation any time soon. It's also a win for Microsoft, which now gets to participate in Facebook's strategic upside, if not the financial upside it would have also gotten had it pulled the trigger a year or so ago.