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CFO Of Microsoft Discusses Facebook Deal

Doug Caverly
Staff Writer
Published: 2007-11-14

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Chris Liddell, who serves as Microsoft's chief financial officer, has defended the idea of spending $240 million on a 1.6 percent stake in Facebook. His comments aren't likely to reverse critics' stances, however.

They'd already heard from Steve Ballmer, who, with his infamy for saying and doing odd things, is somewhat hard to take seriously.

Furthermore, Ballmer failed to nail much of anything down, and given his role in the company, Liddell might have provided some solid data, or at least a comment referring to statistics, in support of Microsoft's decision. But he didn't.

"Obviously, I feel comfortable with the transaction we've done, and I was involved in it," Liddell told Todd Bishop. "I think you have to look at the investment not only in the context of the dollar investment but the commercial transaction."

He then continued, still without citing numbers, "I think there's a great example of finance taking a role in that and thinking about the holistic aspect of what we're trying to do in the online services, how Facebook fits into it, and how a dual investment-commercial transaction is a very powerful way of creating a partnership."

Liddell did allude to stock prices, later adding, "[T]he share market reaction I think was positive." And indeed, for about eight days following the Facebook deal, Microsoft's stock rose somewhat sharply.

It's now lost about half that gain, though, and with the rest of the market going crazy around it, the Redmond-based corporation doesn't seem to have received much in the way of long-term benefits.

In the eyes of many onlookers, Microsoft's decision to invest so much money in so little of Facebook will remain questionable.

Yet the company's not about go to broke, and at least Liddell demonstrated that some of the its leaders are willing to share whatever credit or blame they've earned.

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