As Facebook gets a lot of market buzz for what looks like a $50 billion valuation, it is good to recall the emerging markets angles to this story.
For starters, Russia’s Mail.ru owns 2.55% of Facebook proper. You cannot trade it here in the United States, but the company made a big splash in its Moscow IPO.
Russian programmers have been the key to Silicon Valley’s success for decades and are now finally getting their share of acclaim back home. President Medvedev’s focus on “innovation” as a way to move the Russian economy away from its reliance on commodities should not be underestimated — they have already created their own Silicon valley outside Moscow, called Skulkkovo.
In fact, while Goldman Sachs is widely reported as investing $500 million in Facebook over the weekend, 10% of that stake is actually coming from Russian incubator Digital Sky Technologies.
If for some reason you have access to Russian equities, Mail.ru is definitely one of the more interesting ways to play the Internet space in Europe and beyond.
Otherwise, you can play Facebook in China via SINA.
Instead of investing in U.S. Facebook, SINA is in the position of having Mark Zuckerberg come to China seeking ways to make an alliance. One way or another, this looks like the Chinese equivalent of the U.S. site — and if U.S. Facebook is worth $50 billion, what about SINA?