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Facebook investment puts spotlight on Microsoft stake

Although Microsoft may have to take a write-off at some point, the deal was never about the return on that initial investment in the social network.

One of the things clearly worth noting about Tuesday's announcement about a $200 million investment in Facebook is the fact that it values the company at $10 billion, down a third in the 18 months since Microsoft poured $240 million into the company.

However, the fact that Facebook isn't worth $15 billion, while confirmed on Tuesday, has been pretty well understood for some time. Ever since Microsoft took its stake, there have been questions about what the social network was "really" worth.

The $200 million investment announced Tuesday came from European company Digital Sky Technologies, which now has about a 2 percent stake in the social network.

Although Microsoft may have to take a write-off at some point, the deal was never about the return on that initial investment. Rather, Microsoft saw the deal as the price of admission to get an advertising deal with the social network. At the time, Microsoft had lost several recent deals to Google, including one with MySpace that has also been criticized since for being too generous to the social network.

To land the Facebook deal, Microsoft had to win a bidding war with Google.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg also noted on the conference call on Tuesday that Microsoft's investment "was part of a broader relationship."

"We feel good about the progress we've made," he said.

CNET News' Rafe Needleman contributed to this report.