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Steve Ballmer Says Microsoft Once Offered $24 Billion To Acquire Facebook

Microsoft tried to acquire Facebook in its early years for $24 billion, former CEO Steve Ballmer today told CNBC. The fact that he tried to buy Facebook nearly a decade ago is hardly a shocking revelation, given his appetite at the time to make Microsoft more relevant to consumers at the time. Ballmer's comment, though, appears to be the first public acknowledgment of the company's interest in sealing such a deal.

"He said no, and I respect that," Ballmer told the hosts of CNBC's Squawk Box during a guest segment on the early morning program. Microsoft of course did settle for an early $240 million investment in Facebook in early 2007, a fraction of one percent of what Microsoft was willing to pay for the whole thing. It was a noteworthy move back then when Facebook was valued at $15 billion. Certainly Microsoft wasn't the only company circling its wagons around Facebook back then.

Putting aside whether it was a strategic fit for Microsoft, clearly Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and the rest of Facebook made the right bet for themselves as the now publicly held company is valued at $375 billion. One of the CNBC hosts pointed out a bit of irony in the fact that Snapchat rebuffed Zuckerberg when he tried to buy the popular mobile messaging company for $3 billion. "I think trading that for some short-term gain isn't very interesting," Snapchat Founder Evan Spiegel told Forbes back in 2014, months after turning down the offer. In effect, Zuckerberg was denied in the same way he turned down Ballmer.

Asked about reports that he was recently looking into acquiring Twitter after buying a 4% stake in the company last year, Ballmer said "I have never, ever, ever wanted to buy Twitter myself. I got a good life right now. I don't need to do that." Asked which he believed would be the best company to acquire Twitter, Ballmer said Google's search engine would be an ideal platform to surface tweets.

As CEO of Microsoft, Ballmer said he never tried to acquire Salesforce.com. "I believe in revenue and profit," Ballmer said, in apparent dig to his onetime nemesis Marc Benioff. "I could never make the math work on Salesforce." Apparently Ballmer's successor, Satya Nadella, saw things differently last year when he had reportedly tried to acquire Salesforce.com for $60 billion.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 10/21/2016 at 12:20 PM


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