Will Microsoft really buy Facebook and challenge the Google Monster?
That's the story that is starting to go around again, and it could do so for as much as $20bn. This could, in effect, create two scary companies, but isn't that better than one?
Here is how the story goes. Robert Scoble on his blog says he is hearing Microsoft will buy Facebook for as much as $15bn-$20bn. When it has done that, it will then merge it with Yahoo!'s search business, which it might now acquire after the talks restarted at the weekend.
The stories that Microsoft will buy Facebook have been around for a while and they did immediately resurface again when the Microsoft/Yahoo! deal fell through earlier this month.
The logic being that, one way or another, Microsoft needs to do a large scale internet deal. If it can not have Yahoo! then it goes for Facebook, although the price tag is large when you consider than Bebo sold for an $850m song.
Today on the Scobleizer, he says: "I'm hearing these rumors too that John Furrier (my ex-boss) is reporting. That Microsoft will buy Yahoo!'s search and then buy Facebook for $15bn to $20bn. Add that to all the news that Microsoft is buying Yahoo's search and that gets very interesting."
If it happens it could create an online firm with enough power and reach to tackle Google, and let's face it Google need tackling. It's big and it's getting bigger. It's a monster. It's the Google Monster.
Google knows something is up, which is why it is very keen to get a search advertising deal done with Yahoo! to stop it tying any of its business together with Microsoft.
Scoble says it's a bad thing if Microsoft/Facebook/Yahoo! get together because they will effectively create a closed network. How's that?
Well, it is now all about data. It has been the talk of the digital world of late with Google and MySpace talking interoperability and open source technology to allow the sharing of data (profiles and pictures) between networks. Except that Facebook has not taken part.
Google has been making a thing of this and posting on its blog about the fact that Facebook does not want to join up with Google Friend Connect, which puts users in control of their data. It is part of its "open move".
Google is making out that it is Facebook who are the bad boys here and that it is just trying to help the world along and "share". Yeah, right.
So why's that? Well, it is all very well for Google to talk about linking with everyone, but one of its reason for doing that is it doesn't have a social network. Or it does, but who uses Orkurt? Exactly.
It wants to be able to offer things such as people search on Google, which it has not been able to do at the moment, but if it can not have the pre-eminent social network as part of that then this makes it a much weaker proposition.
This is where Microsoft comes in. It wants Facebook combined with Yahoo! to do just that and it will not share. To a degree you have to say why should it?
It needs to find a way to make its search offering attractive to users. If it can do that by offering some kind of people/data search then it will achieve this and rival Google at the same time.
As people have pointed out, this will create another scary online giant, but isn't better to have two online scary giants than one big bully?