You can tell that Facebook's Owen Van Natta and Microsoft's Kevin Johnson are sales guys. In a conference call announcing that Microsoft and Facebook had struck a long-expected investment and ads deal, both had the "win-win-win" patter down, along with nonanswers to hard questions. In his live coverage of the call, Silicon Alley Insider's Peter Kafka has a rundown of the dodges Van Natta and Johnson offered. After the jump, the big questions still hovering over Microsoft and Facebook's $240 million deal.
- Is Facebook getting more investors? Microsoft's $240 million, exchanged for a 1.6 percent stake in Facebook, was described as the software giant's participation in Facebook's next round of financing. Left open was the possibility that there would be other participants in the round, which means that Facebook CFO Gideon Yu is not going to get to catch up on his sleep anytime soon.
- Did Facebook get control of its ad inventory back? Microsoft is now Facebook's exclusive third-party ad network. Reading between the lines, that means that Facebook can't run ads brokered by, say, Google or Yahoo — but it can sell ads directly. But the key question is whether Microsoft still has exclusive control over Facebook's U.S. ad inventory — the initial deal the two companies struck last year. Facebook retained a small amount of inventory for its own sales, but according to insiders, it was seeking control of more in these negotiations.
- Is Facebook launching its own ad network? Quite possibly. Nothing in the agreement would preclude Facebook from selling ads on other sites — including ones Microsoft controls.
- Will Microsoft get to use Facebook users' personal data for targeting? Unclear. Van Natta talked quite a bit about the company's need to keep users' trust, but Microsoft's Johnson hinted that the ad partnership wiould involve some targeting.
- Where was Mark Zuckerberg? The 23-year-old CEO was not quoted in the press release, and he didn't participate in the call. It's possible that he was addressing employees — perhaps in the rumored all-hands meeting that Facebook insiders spent so much time denying yesterday?