“Quite famously we almost bought 10 percent of Facebook.” I asked why the company didn’t and he directed me instead to read David Kirkpatrick’s book, The Facebook Effect. Don Graham met Mark Zuckerberg in 2005, and later that year, according to the book, when Facebook was looking for financing, Zuckerberg and Graham verbally agreed to the terms of a Washington Post Company investment in Facebook. Soon after, Accel Partners, a prominent Silicon Valley private-equity firm, made a richer offer. Zuckerberg felt he had betrayed his agreement with Graham by meeting with the principals of Accel, and at one point left a dinner meeting with them and broke down in the restaurant’s restroom. Zuckerberg called Graham, who released him from his obligation to the Post. Zuckerberg agreed to a deal with Accel. Graham and Zuckerberg have remained friends, and in 2008 Graham joined the board of Facebook. (Graham’s daughter Molly works at Facebook and his daughter Laura works at a Washington Post-owned division, SocialCode, which advises companies on buying Facebook ads.) According to PrivCo, a firm that researches private companies, if Graham had persuaded Zuckerberg to honor his agreement, the Post’s stake in Facebook after the imminent I.P.O. might have been worth $7 billion, more than double the market capitalization of the entire Post Company.
If there was a Dislike button, Graham would be clicking it.