News briefs, July 16, 2007

Will Zuckerberg take Microsoft’s chump change?

As PE Week went to press last week, our staff began to see posts online and send emails back and forth to one another, just like everyone else in the blogosphere, in regards to the rumor that Microsoft Corp. was preparing to offer $6 billion to buy Facebook. That juicy tidbit—which came from Henry Blodget‘s Internet Outsider blog—came just a few days after Bay Partners announced its commitment to fund future development around Facebook with the Bay Partners AppFactory program.

Whether it’s wild fantasy or there’s an M&A deal in the offing, Bay Partners Partner Salil Deshpande offered his commentary:

“We aren’t surprised. Whether Facebook will remain an independent company was frequently asked when we announced AppFactory. … But even in the acquisition scenario, the Facebook platform has a good shot at being a long-term viable platform, especially if the acquirer is a company with deep experience in managing platforms and developer relations.”

Sen. Baucus blasts Blackstone

It is official: The private equity industry is under regulatory scrutiny in a way it has never witnessed before. The U.S. Congress’ inquiry into whether to raise taxes on hedge funds, venture capitalists and private equity firms continued in earnest last week as the Senate Finance Committee chairman, Max Baucus, said that he wants to find out “whether some people who are earning great wealth are also avoiding their full and proper share of the burden of taxation.”

He referred to newly publicly traded The Blackstone Group and said that there is “a good argument that the fund managers who are becoming publicly traded partnerships are stretching the law.”

Quarterly surveys are a-coming

It’s that time of the year again—the start of a new quarter, which means many financial folk are busy taking a look back at the previous three-month period.

This week, we jump right into it with a preliminary look at U.S. fund-raising statistics. Final numbers from Thomson Financial (publisher of PE Week) will be out later this week.

Then, we’ll do the same the following week with deal disbursements, as we plan to run a preliminary accounting of deal activity. Early indications are that it’s been a hectic three months. The MoneyTree survey by Thomson Financial, National Venture Capital Association and PricewaterhouseCoopers is set for distribution later this month.

That will be followed by performance tracking and one or two other quarterly data surveys. Earlier this month, Thomson Financial released its exit poll that showed that M&A exits declined as compared to the previous quarter, though IPOs are up. —Alastair Goldfisher