Microsoft sneaks a stake in Facebook

Ever since Facebook started to rocket in popularity, the talk has been of whether Google or Yahoo! would be the one to eventually buy out the social networking site. Google owns YouTube and Blogger: Yahoo! has Flickr and del.icio.us. Between them (with the odd interference from News Corporation snatching MySpace) they’ve been diligently carving up what the kids (or at least the venture capitalists) are calling web 2.0.

But now a little company called Microsoft – remember them? – has stolen in and bought a minority stake in Facebook for $240m, along with the exclusive right to sell advertising on the site. The deal values Facebook at $15bn, which (reaching for our calculator) means Microsoft’s bought just 1.6% of the company.

But the best part of this story is how it was leaked. Tech gossip site Valleywag noticed that Brandee Barker, Facebook head of PR, had changed her profile to add Microsoft’s head of marketing Adam Sohn as a friend. Awww.

(Image: from likeyesterday’s Flickr stream)

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