KM Space, the excellent BLOG of Doug Cornelius, has a post today on the Microsoft purchase of a 1.6% interest in Facebook.
It's easy to stop at the fact that this purchase values Facebook at $15 billion. Discussions with colleagues have yet to reveal the importance of Facebook in the business world (admittedly, I also thought that the internet would never last.) On what basis did Microsoft come to the conclusion that this investment makes sense?
Doug's post suggests that an enterprise version of Facebook, delivered on the SharePoint platform, may be the goal. While SharePoint doesn't have the name recognition of Windows and Vista, it has been an extremely popular Microsoft product. SharePoint is a tool that enables "one stop shopping" for information and knowledge. SharePoint also enables an organization to distribute ownership of that information and knowledge so that the users that most care about content can very easily manage it.
So what does Facebook bring to the party? Based on my limited exposure to Facebook to date, I think the answer is very simple – a better way for people to "connect". Perhaps this is not as significant an issue in smaller organizations, but in larger law firms, there are fewer and fewer opportunities for basic social interaction. You certainly don't have to know which lawyers like to mountain climb in order to build a team to work on a client file, but at some level knowing some personal information about colleagues is part of the social fabric that keeps a firm together.