Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

Whoah, Nellie! FTC Investigation into @FaceBook’s @Instagram buyout may delay IPO

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, May 10, 2012

It’s entirely unusual for so many people to voluntarily relinquish so much private information. As well, FaceBook has deliberately deceived many people with their  (lack of) “privacy” policy. In this information era, people are becoming the commodity. But, it’s always been true, that if you don’t want folks to know about it, don’t share it.

Probe may delay Facebook Instagram deal

May 10, 2012 7:13 pm

By April Dembosky in San Francisco

FaceBook's Instagram buyout raises FTC eyebrows

The United States Federal Trade Commission will be investigating FaceBook’s US$1Billion buyout of Instagram. The logos of the Facebook (L) and Instagram (C) apps are pictured on an IPhone in Cologne, Germany, 09 April 2012.The social network Facebook, flush with cash as the company steers toward public trading scooped up the Instagram mobile photo-sharing application for about 1 billion dollars in cash and stock, on 09 April 2012. San Francisco, USA, based Instagram, with more than 30 million users, is one of the most popular free photo-sharing application on Apple’s App store. EPA/Rolf Vennenbernd

A competition probe into Facebook’s $1bn acquisition of photo-sharing service Instagram threatens to postpone the closure of the deal beyond the second quarter, the target set by the company in its initial public offering documents.

The Federal Trade Commission has launched the investigation, according to two people familiar with the matter, and has already begun collecting information from at least one of the social network’s largest competitors. The process could also further slow Facebook’s already lagging mobile strategy.

The competition probe – routine for any deal more than $66m – is likely to take six to 12 months, according to several experts. But Facebook said in its IPO documents last month that it expected the deal to close in the second quarter.

“That’s terrifically optimistic,” said David Balto, a former policy director at the FTC who now works as an anti-trust lawyer.

Competition experts expect that the Instagram merger will ultimately be approved, but they believe regulators will apply close scrutiny to the deal because of the steep price that Facebook paid and the high profile of the companies.

“They’re going to want to take some months to investigate and understand the market and other players,” Mark Lemley, a professor at Stanford Law School, said. “And there may be more parties with an interest in submitting information.”

Facebook has acknowledged that its mobile strategy is an area of weakness, which is likely to have increased the pressure on it to set an ambitious timeline as it faces questions from analysts and potential investors.

“They’re assuming nothing will happen, which is the face you want to put to investors,” said Alan Webber, an analyst with the Altimeter Group. “If they don’t dig too deep, yeah it’s possible it could go that fast. I don’t think that’s likely.”

Facebook declined to comment.

The company is not permitted to integrate any aspects of Instagram’s technology, or its staff who have expertise in mobile app development, until the deal is approved. The longer the approval takes, the longer Facebook must wait to see any benefits of the merger.

That could be damaging for Facebook in such a fast-moving industry, Mr Lemley said.

Facebook has said it would pay Instagram a $200m termination fee if governmental authorities prevented the deal from being completed.

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/dee1b68e-9ac2-11e1-94d7-00144feabdc0.html

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