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Facebook me to the bozo brigade

If you buy the spin-du-jour, this is a can't-miss investment. But are the tech powers-that-be again drinking spiked punch?

Until now I've resisted joining the scrum opining about what Facebook may or may not do with Microsoft, Google, Yahoo--or Mr. Bacciagalupe on the corner. But the numbers getting tossed around these days are so "bubblicious" that you have to wonder whether history's about to repeat.

On paper, it all makes good sense. (And doesn't it always?) In this case, Microsoft would pay a reported $300 million to $500 million for a piece of Facebook. Microsoft's PR team would undoubtedly issue a typically ain't-things-grand press release about how synergies between the two companies will lead to a fruitful collaboration and "better user experience."

OK. Let's forget for the time being that it would be an expensive admission that Microsoft can't figure out how to compete in the social-networking market. A Facebook deal supposedly would provide a needed fillip to Microsoft's online advertising plans. But would Microsoft--or any other would-be investor--get their money's worth? If you buy the spin-du-jour, this is a can't-miss investment. That also will leave CEO Mark Zuckerberg in the enviable position of being wooed for Facebook's favors. The reported Microsoft investment values Facebook as a $10 billion company. $10 billion. Great for the Z-meister and his minions but is the greater tech community out of its ever-loving gourd? By comparison, that would make News Corp.'s $580 million acquisition of MySpace look like a red-tag steal.

Don't let's think I'm a Facebook basher. Just the opposite. I regularly use the service and think the Facebook team's done a fabulous job. But a number of folks from the world of the tech cognoscenti are talking about Facebook as if it were the second coming of Google. Let's not confuse things. Search is a killer business, but social networking is well, nice.

Remember, GeoCities, Excite@Home and Broadcast.com? Very smart people were responsible for those billion-dollar blockbusters. At the time, they touted the deals as harbingers of a new era. Unfortunately, they wound up wasting billions of dollars in a stunning display of disastrous groupthink. The Broadcast.com deal was especially onerous as it forever saddled the world with Mark Cuban. (Just kidding, Marky. Although after his appearance this evening on Dancing with the Stars, millions more may share that opinion.)

Could it be that the bozo brigade is about to walk down the same primrose path? Just a thought before they start passing around the Kool-Aid.