When Microsoft bought a 1.6 percent stake in Facebook back in October 2007, it paid 240 million dollars for the preferred stock, which meant that the company was valued at roughly 15 billion dollars. A big discussion broke out over whether Facebook was really worth that much, or 15 billion was an unrealistic number.
It turns out that it was, since Facebook values itself at somewhere around 3.7 billion dollars. We know this, because the Associated Press was able to retrieve some details from the transcript of a June court hearing held over a legal settlement between Facebook and ConnectU.
How the AP did that is interesting in itself; they copied and pasted the blacked-out portions of the document into another document. I’d be surprised, but here at Mashable we were also once able to retrieve information in a similar way, due to a sloppy conversion of a Joost-related Powerpoint presentation to a PDF document. It’s hard to believe that things like this happen in multi-million dollar deals, but they obviously do.
The most interesting bit of information that AP was able to retrieve is Facebook’s own assessment of its worth: $8.88 per share, which gives the company a market value of around $3.7 billion.
This puts Facebook into a very uncomfortable situation for several reasons. First, it’s never good when the value of your company is suddenly perceived as being 4-5 times less than before. Secondly, although preferred stock may (but that’s debatable and depends on the nature of the stock) be worth more than common stock, I doubt that Microsoft is happy to realize they’ve severely overpaid their share in Facebook. And thirdly, the fact that the economic situation has been steadily worsening after June 2008 doesn’t help matters at all, and one can argue that Facebook is probably worth far less – by their own standards – than the aforementioned 3.7 billion. That’s the danger of being overvalued and overhyped; if presented with evidence to the contrary, you might soon find yourself sinking far lower than you realistically should.