Microsoft tried to buy Facebook for $24 billion

When it was just starting out, Facebook was no stranger to acquisition interests from larger companies. In a recent interview, former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer discussed Microsoft being one of these companies.

In the interview with CNBC, Ballmer revealed that Microsoft had offered $24 billion for Facebook in 2007 when it was “itsy bitsy.”

At this point the company was still a fair amount of time away from its initial public offering, which saw its value increase even more, but actually Microsoft was pretty late to the offer making game.

Setting a precedent

According to David Kirkpatrick's The Facebook Effect, Facebook started receiving offers from tech giants such as Google, Viacom, and Yahoo from as early as 2004 and many of them made offers more than once.

A real precedent was set by Google when it made an offer to invest in Facebook at a $15 billion valuation. The offer was declined, after which Ballmer dropped in on behalf of Microsoft and reportedly asked “why don’t we just buy you for $15 billion?”

It's not entirely unlikely that Ballmer's offer was more of a reaction to Google's obvious interest rather than stemming from a genuine belief that Microsoft and Facebook were the right fit for one another at the time.

That said, the discussions must have gone on for a while and quite seriously if Ballmer did indeed eventually offer $24 billion as he says. As we all know, though, Zuckerberg declined. Ballmer said in his interview that he respected the decision. 

It’s certainly easy to respect a decision that was so clearly the correct one for Zuckerberg. Having become one of the biggest tech giants in the world, Facebook isn’t exactly "itsy bitsy" anymore with a market cap of $374 billion and Zuckerberg’s own net worth sitting at an estimated $57 billion. 

It's hard to imagine a Facebook owned by Microsoft, though it would no doubt involve a lot more HoloLens and a lot less Oculus Rift

Emma Boyle

Emma Boyle is TechRadar’s ex-Gaming Editor, and is now a content developer and freelance journalist. She has written for magazines and websites including T3, Stuff and The Independent. Emma currently works as a Content Developer in Edinburgh.