Google is racing with Yahoo and Microsoft to take a stake in Facebook, and win some of its advertising business. As with YouTube, Google was late to get in on the Facebook deal — but again, it's making a full-court press, with some of its top people. Negotiating the deal: Tim Armstrong, Google's chief of ad sales; Susan Wojcicki, Google's VP in charge of product management for advertising; Joan Braddi, a Google VP involved with search; and Megan Smith, a veteran Google dealmaker. Armstong is leading Google's approach, but we hear Smith is playing a crucial behind-the-scenes role. She was also, coincidentally, spotted by many chatting up Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at a recent party thrown by Facebook app-developer iLike.
But that was well before talks had started. Smith was likely catching up with Zuckerberg, whom she hadn't talked to since Google and Facebook last held tentative investment discussions more than a year ago. Google higher-ups are, no doubt, kicking themselves that they didn't buy Facebook back then, before its valuation soared into the billions of dollars.
Left out of the loop: Megan Smith's partner, Kara Swisher of AllThingsD, who's been covering the Facebook story and broke the news of Google and Yahoo's interest, but heard of Smith's involvement in the negotiations from someone else, which led to some frosty moments at home. "Megan's the most useless source of all time," Swisher told me.