The $50 million question

$50 million doesn’t buy you much these days. In football, it bought Manchester City one Robinho, a Brazilian winger ; and in Silicon Valley, it just bought Facebook one Friendfeed, a real-time social networking site.

The comparison between the English football club Manchester City and the American geek social network Facebook is less fanciful that it first appears. Both companies are operating in surreal financial environments that are antithetical to rational economic rules. Both are mostly owned by accidental billionaires - in Manchester City’s case, by a group of Abu Dhabi sheiks; in Facebook’s case, by Mark Zuckerberg and some Russian oligarchs. And both will eventually be rudely brought down to earth by the economic laws of supply and demand that they are vainly trying to circumvent.