Would Facebook Have Sold To Yahoo for $1.6 Billion? We’ll Never Know

Venture Capitalist Peter Thiel talks about Facebook rejecting a $1 billion offer from Yahoo in 2006. He and Accel’s Jim Breyer were on the same page – “take the money and run.”

But Zuckerberg said no. He “barely humored the idea of selling,” says Thiel. Which is about the same thing we heard back then: “At one point in the Yahoo negotiations, the talks extended into the weekend, says a person familiar with the matter. Mr. Zuckerberg, this account continues, said he couldn’t take part because his girlfriend was in town. Others pointed out they were closing in on a billion-dollar deal. Mr. Zuckerberg said it didn’t matter: his cellphone would be off.”

Even better was the way Zuckerberg handled the simultaneous negotiations with Microsoft: “During one series of talks with Microsoft, Facebook executives told their Microsoft peers they couldn’t do an 8 a.m. conference call because the company’s 22-year-old founder and chief executive, Harvard dropout Mark Zuckerberg, wouldn’t be awake.”

Obviously Zuckerberg made the right decision. But what I’d love to know is what would have happened if Yahoo was able to make their top offer – some $1.62 billion.

Late in 2006 I obtained the internal Yahoo presentation analyzing a possible Facebook acquisition. Based on projected growth in Facebook users, Yahoo was willing to at least 60% more than the $1 billion they formally offered.

What if Zuckerberg had been willing to work that weekend, and Yahoo got in a new offer closer to what they were actually prepared to pay? Perhaps Zuckerberg would have said yes. Perhaps Thiel and Breyer would have threatened to murder him if he still didn’t budge.

We’ll never know for sure, of course, but I’m guessing Facebook would have said yes. Given Yahoo’s track record back then, though, it still wouldn’t have been a good deal for them. More likely than not, they would have destroyed Facebook, and would be moaning today about how much they overpaid.