It is good, to have friends

January 4, 2011

Mark Zuckerberg got some new friends. He is also seven billion US$ richer. Not that Mark would desperately need new friends and their help, he made a fortune of some 13 billion US$ in just six years (not bad for a 26 year young man).

The investment bank Goldman Sachs invested 450 million US$ in Facebook. The money will be used to buy talented people and startup companies and it will allow to postpone a public offering of shares (IPO) and avoid stricter regulations.

Facebook got also another 50 million US$ from the Russian internet company Mail.ru Group (Digital Sky Technologies) who offers mail, social network and gambling in Russia and Easter Europe. Mail.ru Group owns now 850 million US$ of Facebook shares, it also owns ICQ and partly Zynga (FarmVille, Texas HoldEm Poker, Cafe World, Treasure Isle, Mafia Wars) and Groupon.

Mail.ru Group is run by the co-founders Yuri Milner and Gregory Finger, by Alexander Tamas (formerly at Goldman Sachs) and Verdi Israelian.

Mail.ru Group is owned by billionaire Alisher Usmanov, South African media company Naspers, Chinese internet company Tencent, Goldman Sachs, Tiger Global (a NY hedge fund) and the founders Yuri Milner and Gregory Finger. Just for the record: Tencent, China’s largest internet company is partly owned by Naspers and in return has stakes in Naspers Indian internet division. Naspers also own BuscaPe in Brazil and other internet companies.

Alisher Usmanov is one of Vladimir Putin’s “oligarchs,” he has deep ties to the Kremlin. Beside his stake in Mail.ru he owns Metalloinvest, the Moscow daily Kommersant, the cellphone company Megafon and the British soccer club Arsenal. In 1980, Usmanov was convicted of fraud and extortion in Uzbekistan and he served six years in prison.

No, I don’t claim that the Russian mafia is white-washing money here.

Matt Taibbi wrote an interesting report in Rolling Stone about Goldman Sachs which is worth reading, if one wants to get an idea what is going on in the world of international business.

In another unrelated report I read, that Facebook asked users, which US politicians and government agencies they like best. Republicans Sarah Palin, Paul Ryan, John Thune, Scott Brown, Marco Rubio, Tim Pawlent, Janet Brewer and Rick Perry made the top of the list. The U.S. Armed Forces — particularly the Navy — also got high ratings, the Marine Corps has nearly a million followers.

I don’t have an account on Facebook and considering this latest reports I don’t think that I would feel happy there. I have to look for friends somewhere else.

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