By comparison, Google has 5,000 employees with profiles, although Larry Page, Sergey Brin and Eric Schmidt are noticeably absent (Marissa Mayer does have a profile, however, and actively adds friends). Yahoo has just 3,500 employee profiles, and none of the most senior execs participate.
On a percentage of employees basis, Google (47% of employees are on Facebook) and Yahoo (31%) are more active than Microsoft (17%). But the most senior people at Microsoft, including Bill Gates (Chairman), Steve Ballmer (CEO), Ray Ozzie (Chief Software Architect), all have profiles and appear to be very active on the service. Ray Ozzie has dozens of friends and is actively trying out different Facebook applications. In the last couple of days, he added and then removed a search app, for example.
Bill Gates may be taking an even deeper dive. In addition to having a Facebook profile, he also maintains a profile on HotOrNot that can be viewed on Facebook (HotOrNot confirmed that this is the real Bill Gates).
Since it’s unlikely that Bill, Steve and Ray have a lot of leisure time for social networking and online dating, I wonder why they’re spending all this time on the site?
The two companies have a long term advertising deal, of course. But the success (or not) of that deal has little to do with Microsoft execs spending time on the site. It looks to me like they are genuinely testing the service, perhaps in the hope of making an aggressive acquisition move, or trying to emulate Facebook’s success.