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Steve Ballmer proposed $15bn Facebook acquisition

Walk of shame with Zuckerberg

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Microsoft's reported to have conceded it once tried to buy Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook for $15bn.

Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's chief executive, made two trips to meet Zuckerberg at the company's HQ in Palo Alto, California, where he popped the proposal during a long walk.

The tease Zuckerberg rebuffed Ballmer, as he wanted to keep control of Facebook according to a report here on TechCrunch.

Microsoft instead settled for a $240m investment in Facebook in October 2007, giving it 1.6 per cent of the company and the "opportunity to further collaborate as advertising partners." Facebook at the time was calculated to be headed towards revenue of $150m.

Fritz Lanman, Microsoft's senior director of corporate strategy and acquisitions, detailed the story on stage during discussion at the Le Web 2010 in Paris, France.

Lanman is the first person from Microsoft to confirm the company had tried to buy Facebook, a tale first told in David Kirkpatrick's book The Facebook Effect.

Today, Microsoft has added Facebook to its Bing search engine and offered a version of web-based Word to Facebook users that's called Docs.com.

You can soak up the full account of what went down on the long but frustrating walk here. ®

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