It seems to be an unwritten rule for start-ups; come up with a great idea, build the prototype, make some waves in the industry to garner the attention of its big players, then sell to those players and buy a yacht on which you can begin your early retirement. But, when it came to Mark Zuckerberg’s plan for Facebook, this scenario just wasn’t going to work.
In the early days of Facebook, beginning just a few short months after the company’s inception, buyers came knocking hard and fast. The company’s take on the idea of social networking proved popular right out of the gates, and bigger, more established companies wanted a piece of the pie. But Zuckerberg wasn’t selling. Even as the offers climbed and climbed, he just wasn’t interested in selling.
It was a strategy that frustrated his investors early on, but proved to be a wise move. With over 1.5 billion active monthly users, Mark Zuckerberg’s net worth is estimated to be over 35 billion dollars.
This is what we’d expect from one of his generation’s most celebrated innovators. But, when his company was still in its infancy and he was fresh out of college, those early offers must have been exceptionally hard to turn down. Here is a brief timeline of Facebook’s purchase offers.
Timeline of Offers for Facebook
- $10 million (2004): The first offer came from a financier in New York. The person behind this offer remains unnamed, but its sum must have been dazzling to a 20-year-old graduate, but not dazzling enough.
- Undisclosed Amount (2004): Rival company, Friendster, wanted to buy Facebook early on, but didn’t have the capital necessary so it proposed a long-term deal that never came to fruition.
- $75 million (2005): The rising success of the company caught the attention of Viacom, but the meeting in which the company proposed the sale had no such offer marked on the agenda, so Mark dismissed it.
- $1 billion (2006): AOL became interested in Zuckerberg’s company, but didn’t offer enough to tempt him.
- $1.5 billion (2006): After MySpace showed some interest that year, Viacom tried again, this time aiming for the 2 billion dollar mark which Zuckerberg believed the company to be worth. It believed the company’s appeal to the MTV generation would return huge profits. Again, this offer was turned down.
- $15 billion (2007): Microsoft was negotiating an investment, but really wanted the company itself. It just got the investment.
Mark Zuckerberg was determined to hang onto his company, which has served him well. He does, however, have a deal with Microsoft which stipulates he would have to sell to the software giant first. Conversely, if another company offers an amount which Microsoft can’t match, Zuckerberg can sell to that company. But the only company which seems to be able to offer what Microsoft can’t, ironically, is Facebook. It looks like it’s going to stay in Zuckerberg’s hands for the foreseeable future.
Image credit: http://www.digitaltrends.com/social-media/zuckerberg-obama-call-nsa-spying-internet/