Facebook, Microsoft Put On A Good Face In Deal Negotiations

It sure sounded that way from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's remarks at the Web 2.0 Summit, which opened with former Industry Standard publisher John Battelle interviewing the 23-year old social media wunderkind who created Facebook three years ago and continues to oversee the company's meteoric growth.

Battelle opened with a question about how Facebook's widely rumored fundraising, intended to bring in operating capital and establish a valuation for the company north of $10 billion, is progressing. "It's going well," Zuckerberg answered. "It's almost wrapped up."

Later, Battelle asked how Facebook's deal with Microsoft is going. Last year, Facebook and Microsoft inked a multiyear deal making Microsoft the exclusive provider of banner ads and sponsored links on the site. But Facebook now wants to create its own ad network for its site, a goal conflicting with its prior arrangement with Microsoft. That didn't dampen Zuckerberg's enthusiasm for Microsoft, though -- a sign that the two companies may have recently negotiated new, mutually satisfying alliance terms.

"I think we're both happy," Zuckerberg said about the state of the union between Facebook and Microsoft.

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"You think or you're sure?" Battelle quizzed.

"I'm pretty sure," Zuckerberg replied with a grin.

But don't expect Facebook to sell out entirely to any of the companies eager to acquire it. Zuckerberg emphasized repeatedly throughout the talk that Facebook's creators consider the current site a very early iteration of what they envision: a comprehensive platform for "mapping the social graph," atop which application developers and other solution providers can create plug-in tools to help users optimize information flow throughout their social network.

"It might take 30 years -- tens of years -- before this is a really mature platform that can map out all the edges of the social graph," Zuckerberg said.