Launched in 2004 (the same year as the Orkut release, by the way), Facebook at that time was still a social proto-network, limited to Harvard students, where students could fill out a profile and make connections with friends on campus (or friends potential), using the internet to, for example, combine that party at the weekend, or even discover new crushes without having to wander the university’s aisles and gardens.
At that time the social network that would eventually become the largest in the world was still called TheFacebook.com, but quickly the novelty became popular to expand to students from other universities and even reach the American high school. In this, we are already talking about 2006, and in September of that year, Mark Zuckerberg decided to open his platform for anyone in the world to also be part of that exciting new virtual universe. And that was the beginning of Facebook as we know it, which today has more than 2 billion global users.
But back in the mid-2000s, Facebook’s rise in popularity not only attracted a slew of new users, but also caught the eye of the technology market’s eyes. However, even before Facebook “burst,” there were already visionary people offering money for Zuck to sell his then startup – which he refused without a second thought, betting on his project.
Know, then, sometimes that they tried to buy Facebook in its early days:
Just four months after the launch of Facebook, which emerged in February 2004 when he was still TheFacebook.com, a funder whose identity was not revealed from New York, offered $ 10 million to the young Zuckerberg of only 20 years of age. The offer was not taken seriously at the time and the negotiation was not carried out.
At the same time, Zuckerberg and his colleagues at Harvard spent time in a house in Palo Alto until Google executives approached them there to see if there was a way to work together on the new social network or even buy Facebook.
No deal was made, but the giant did not give up, and tried to do business with Facebook again in 2007. On that occasion, Tim Armstrong, Google ad seller , made a proposal for Google to provide international ads on Facebook. Although the agreement was not reached, such an approach (and the amounts involved) opened the eyes of Zuck so that it reshaped its social network already with the aim of making it the largest in the world, because it was with this proposal of Google that Zuck was sure that his business was on the right track.
Already in 2005, Viacom offered $ 75 million to buy the Zuckerberg company. But the businessman was negotiating at the same time investments with The Washington Post, and preferred to guarantee the $ 35 million of this negotiation instead of selling his company for $ 75 million to Viacom. After all, if in a single investment it was possible to squeeze almost half the value offered by the purchase of the whole company, clever of not selling and getting that money (and more) with other partnerships.
In early 2006, the then head of MTV in the United States (MTV is part of Viacom) said that Facebook was already worth $ 2 billion, and a few weeks later Viacom tried again, offering $ 1.5 billion to buy Facebook, with $ 800 million in cash and the remainder being paid back. Zuck was tempted and almost accepted, but asked for a larger down payment. The Viacom CFO did not accept, and the deal did not go forward.
NewsCorp (the “mother” of MySpace)
MySpace was another social network that had international prominence in the years 2000, being controlled by NewsCorp. One of the reasons MySpace fell in popularity was just Facebook’s breakthrough, and in 2006 NewsCorp’s digital chief took Zuckerberg from Silicon Valley to Los Angeles for a meeting to talk about an acquisition. But Zuck said at the time that there were big differences between the business models of technology companies in Los Angeles and Silicon Valley, saying “we [Silicon Valley] created this to last, and these guys [Los Angeles] have no idea. “
In the same year of 2006, Yahoo offered $ 1 billion to buy Facebook. Many of the executives and investors of the social network were in favor of the sale, but Zuckerberg was about to launch the News Feed and, if the news was right, the CEO estimated that his company would end up worth more than $ 1bn.
At the end of that year, Yahoo tried again, suggesting that it could pay more than $ 1 billion for the purchase of Facebook – but by that time the social network had already opened its platform for anyone in the world to register, being sure that your company would be much more valued in a very short time. And, well, new Facebook signups rose from 20,000 to 50,000 a day that year.
Also in 2006, then-CEO AOL Jonathan Miller wanted to buy Facebook, but his company did not have that much money to beat the competition’s offers. He then tried to join Time Inc. (both companies controlled by Time Warner) so that together they would sell some of their services to raise money. With that amount accumulated, the two companies would head to Time Warner for the parent company to try to deal with Facebook. But Time Warner rejected the idea and no proposal was ever made for Zuckerberg.
Friendster was one of the first real social networks to arrive after SixDegrees (the first one) in 2002. This platform paved the way for TheFacebook.com’s birth. When Facebook emerged, before exploding internationally, one of Friendster’s executives discovered Zuckerberg’s initiative at Harvard and tried to buy it, already afraid of Facebook growing up and “killing” Friendster (as it happened). But the agreement depended on raising funds so that Friendster had the courage to make an irrefutable proposal, and Facebook ended up exploding before that happened.
In 2007, Steve Ballmer, then CEO of Microsoft, offered a different deal to get his hands on Facebook. Evaluating the social network at $ 15 billion, the executive proposed that Microsoft acquire a small stake in Facebook, with the option of, every 6 months, buy 5% of the social network, with the complete acquisition taking from 5 to 7 years to happen. Microsoft actually bought 1.6% of Facebook at the time, for about $ 250 million, but Redmond’s company invests in the world’s largest social network is just that.