Web 2.0 Summit Day Two: The Facebook Seduction

[qi:010] Forget Steve Ballmer’s “you will dunk” quip, or whatever else happened inside the big hall at the Web 2.0 Summit, the story line for today was all-Facebook. The question about Facebook’s pending funding was repeated with mind-numbing regularity.

It was hard to walk the lobby and not have some be fascinated, bemused or simply disgusted by the $15 billion valuation being thrown around by Facebook executives, though they are not going to be that discreet. Some seasoned venture capitalists (a.k.a. ones who have no chance of getting a piece of the Facebook action) theorized it as a case of mass seduction.

Grizzled veterans were wondering why there was so much hysteria around a company that was trying to re-negotiate its advertising deal with Microsoft, even though the word on the street is that the prior advertising arrangements might not be working out, forgive the pun, as advertised.

A few paces down, one would run into guys talking about the gigantic ponzi scheme nature of the whole “facebook-application-providers-advertising-on-other apps” and how it was all going to fall apart once Facebook develops its own advertising network/technology.

Further down the hall, there were some who just couldn’t stop raving about Facebook, and the genius of Mark Zuckerberg, the 23-year-old founder of Palo Alto, Calif.-based start-up. I tell you what he is a genius at: making relatively sane folks lose their chakras over a company that may or may not work out in the long run.

Apparently funding Facebook is one of the reasons why Google co-founder Sergey Brin was spotted in the Palace Hotel a few hours after Google’s third quarter earnings call, and was likely to have dinner with David Sze, a Facebook investor as part of last minute lobbying, according to Valleywag. [Sze and a former Greylock Partners associate were seen having a quiet chat for relatively long time with a Valleywag correspondent, so one can assume certain elements of the Valleywag report might have reliable sources :-) ]
Update: A well-placed source of mine is disputing the Valleywag story, calling it inaccurate.

Google is said to be trying to arrange a complicated deal involving private equity investors. One name being rumored to have active interest in the deal is Roger McNamee, a Facebook addict and the driving force behind Elevation Partners. (McNamee hadn’t responded to my email asking him to comment on the rumor.) I am sure by tomorrow morning the crescendo around Facebook will have reached an all-time high, just in time for the weekend.