Prediction: Google will buy Facebook for about 1.1 billion

Irrational exuberance in the dot com shopping aisles?

No, it’s a chess game and Google’s winning….again.

I’m really starting to understand what seems like irrational exuberance on the part of Google and the major players. A Google aquisition of Facebook would be consistent with what Robert Scoble suggested is happening: Google is building a moat around it’s advertising business.

Steve Ballmer also suggested this notion in his recent BusinessWeek interview, ironically fretting that Google could monopolize the media business. Yikes, Steve would really run out of chairs then?

I can almost hear Ballmer to Schmidt:
“Hey Cowboy, there’s only enough room in this here internet for ONE monopoly you, you, you dirty monopolistic sonofabitch BASTARDS!”

Schmidt to Ballmer:
“HEY! DROP that chair and step AWAY from the Vista Browser!”

Google, with tons of cash to burn and a staggering market cap, has far less to lose in the high stakes internet poker game than Yahoo, Ebay, or even Microsoft. Microsoft is bigger than Google and theoretically richer, but unlike Google Microsoft has yet to figure out good ways to monetize their (improving) search services and (not improving) content services.

Ballmer’s juggling how to preserve his big ticket MS Office and Vista projects. Yahoo’s worried about plunging valuations and people leaving and the fact that a billion represents a lot more to them than it does to Google.   This is almost certainly complicating the Yahoo Facebook negotiations right now.  Ebay’s pretty fat and happy where they are. Meanwhile, Google can focus in laser-like fashion on keeping Google in the driver’s seat with it’s superb contextual advertising monetization.

The best defense is a good offense, so they are buying up properties to increase their control over the advertising space and keep those hundreds of millions of eyeballs out of the hands of MS and Yahoo.

Will this work? I say probably not for similar reasons it was stupid for Yahoo to buy years ago. Video is junky and won’t monetize well. It’ll be more of an encumbrance to Google’s core competencies than an asset. But … things change, and in the meantime it’s fun to watch this high stakes game of chess unfold.

It’s a show you won’t see on YouTube.

Zenrob: Can Youtube win 11 Superbowls?

I’m mangling his point a bit in that title, but Zenrob  has a great new post that does some math to ponder Robert Scoble’s question to me today:

“Tell me, is the $3 million for a minute of Superbowl ad time worth it? If so, why wouldn’t it be worth doing video advertising on YouTube?”

I said over there that I think it’s all about the math and the prospective math of these deals.  Robert’s great but I think he’s seeing this through his channel9/podtech video-enhanced glasses that make video seem more viable as a commercial medium than it really is.

To answer Zenrob’s excellent math question:
Else > 2*Youtubes > 10*11Superbowls

Facebook worth more than YouTube? Don says “yes”

Don Dodge over at Microsoft has a great little thumbnail analysis of the business prospects of YouTube and Facebook, and concludes both are way overpriced at current valuations and Facebook is more valuable at 700 million. He cites Scoble’s latest thinking on the topic as well though it seems to me Robert seems too supportive of buying anything that even smells like Web 2.0 and is still feeling a bit hostile toward his ex employer.   I don’t blame him for that since he was way ahead on the new web and blogging and Microsoft’s failure to “get it” must have been really frustrating.

He’s not doing an extensive analysis but this is the best actual math I’ve seen regarding these deals, which as Don indicates with his little summary, appear to be valued more like Granny’s china than businesses. Given the uncertainties I think he’s generous to go 20x expected earnings. The landscape is changing daily and it’s not clear people will stick to favorite sites the way they stick to favorite brands (I predict we the people will not show much in the way of online brand loyalty, and this will shake it all up a lot in the coming years).