There must have been some point where Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg thought "Damn, $15 billion is a lot of friggin' money." That amount is apparently what Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer offered him to buy Facebook back in 2007. Good thing he said "No dice," because his social-networking empire is worth some $50 billion today.
The confession that Microsoft took a run at buying Facebook was made by MIcrosoft exec Fritz Lanman today at the LeWeb conference in Paris. It confirmed long-standing suspicions that the software titan had done exactly that, but marks the first time that a Microsoft exec has come out and said so.
At the time of the offer, Microsoft ended up settling for a $240 million investment in Facebook, which itself was seen as a huge gamble, but one that seems to have worked out pretty well for both parties today.
The acknowledgment of the buyout attempt is especially interesting news, given that Zuckerberg also today pledged to join king Microsoftie Bill Gates in donating the majority of his wealth to charity. One wonders: If Zuckerberg had made the deal back then, would he have still promised to take his much smaller giant fortune and donate it in the same fashion?