Here's a message for all the tech bloggers and reporters freaking out over the alleged Associated Press bombshell that some copy-paste legerdemain led to the revelation that Facebook valued itself at $3.7 billion at the time of the ConnectU vs. Facebook court settlement:
Please, chill out! This is not news!
While it had not yet been reported that the ConnectU settlement was a reported $65 million (though since it was in cash and stock, that value may have dropped with the onset of the recession), the $3.7 billion Facebook valuation has been around since July.
The New York Times' Brad Stone broke the figure--well, $3.75 billion--amid the hullabaloo surrounding the redacted court transcripts. I know we're bloggers and we have the attention spans of goldfish and all, but the hype over this "shocker" is a bit silly.
Earlier this week, the AP had obtained court documents dating back to June, when ConnectU vs. Facebook was settled. The founders of ConnectU, former Harvard classmates of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, had sued the eventual CEO because they alleged he stole their intellectual property when he was employed as a programmer for ConnectU. But the court documents were kept sealed, largely because there was information pertaining to the privately owned Facebook's valuation. Media outlets, among them CNET News, had lobbied to have the redacted documents made public. The AP eventually used a copy-paste function in an electronic version in order to expose the censored content. Oops.
ConnectU, meanwhile, has contested the settlement because its founders, who include identical twins and Olympic rowers Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, claimed they were misled as to how much Facebook was worth.
Facebook's valuation has been the subject of scrutiny ever since Microsoft invested $240 million in the social network at a sky-high $15 billion valuation. But that investment was one of preferred stock, and it soon became clear that Facebook's paper valuation was significantly lower.
The AP story does have one new tidbit: Facebook was appraised at $8.88 per potential share as part of the $3.7 billion valuation. That figure obviously has dropped since then, given the impact of the recession.
Aside from that, this is a story that was reported almost eight months ago. Keep calm and carry on, folks. To my fellow members of the media, I'm sure there's a "cool new use for Twitter" story to be reported. We clearly can't get enough of those.