Microsoft considers legal action over Facebook defection -

Microsoft is considering legal action against Facebook over the recruitment of a top ad exec, as the social network site appears ready to jump ahead in advertising revenues for the first time.

Microsoft is said to be incandescent with rage at the pilfering of its staff member Carolyn Everson back in mid February, so much the firm is mulling over a range of options including legal action from stopping her taking the position at all.

Lawyers have reportedly been to-ing and fro-ing between the two, which have close links with each other via Microsoft’s Bing search engine, with other less dramatic potential outcomes being blocking Everson from using strategic information and using certain clients for a period of time, according to AllThingsDigital.

And it appears that Microsoft is not in the mood for bluffing either, having already gained a restraining order on another top exec, Matt Miszewski, banning him from working for Salesforce.com.

Apparently CEO Steve Ballmers is particularly irked at the poaching of Everson, who joined Microsoft from MTV, with a rift beginning to appear between the two companies over Facebook’s handling of the affair.

“Microsoft was one of our earliest partners and is still one of our most valued,” said Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg after it was announced that Everson would be jumping ship.

“We look forward to continuing to expand our relationship with them.”

The damage may already have been done.

One of the reasons that the advertising executive’s move has perhaps rattled Microsoft’s cage quite so much is that it essentially adds another string to Facebook’s bow in terms of pushing on with growing advertising revenues.

A report showed that Microsoft is expected to be overtaken for the first time by Facebook in terms of ad revenues this year, with the social networking site reaching £2.19 billion compared to $1.55 billion for Microsoft.

This is compared to $1.26 billion and $1.21 billion for Microsoft and Facebook respectively last year, a massive increase for Mark Zuckerberg’s brand.

In fact Microsoft is not the only company to be feeling the challenge from social networking, with our omniscient search overlord Google even set to face competition in the future.