(Update: Interesting. The Facebook folks just got back to us, and said they don’t have any comment, adding only that the BusinessWeek “reporter didn’t even attempt to get in touch with us to get comment for the piece.”)
Let us first point out that the sources of the rumor aren’t mentioned by name, and so we have no idea how accurate this report is. Second, Facebook officials weren’t even contacted for this story. Finally, while there is a lot of speculation out there about whether $2 billion is reasonable or not, let’s just say that nobody knows. While it is very early days for Facebook in proving that it can bring high-paying ads on the site, its traffic is phenomenal. It has the seventh largest site, by page views.
Sure, this could be a PR stunt, much like Skype pursued, to create rumors that might possibly scare large companies like Viacom to consider buying the company before some other competitor gets to it — for example, News Corp, which bought MySpace. Viacom is just one possible buyer that the Business Week article mentions.
Meanwhile, we are checking with the Facebook guys to see what they have to say in response to these rumors. (We should mention that we were told by internal executives at Facebook last year that Facebook was already getting offers).
Here is Business Week today:
The owners of the privately held company have turned down a $750 million offer and hope to fetch as much as $2 billion in a sale, senior industry executives familiar with the matter say.
…already, www.facebook.com has become the seventh-most heavily trafficked site on the Internet, according to market researcher comScore Media Metrix. It racked up 5.5 billion page views during the month of February, the latest month for which complete data are available. That’s more page views than the Web sites of Amazon.com (AMZN ), Ask.com, or Walt Disney (DIS ).