The social networking company may become the biggest tech public offering ever
Though there are signs that Facebook's momentum may finally be slowing down, weep not for Mark Zuckerberg and the rest of his Silicon Valley posse.
The privately held social networking site will go public in 2012, CNBC reports. The initial public offering is expected to be pegged to an $100 billion valuation, probably setting a new high watermark for technology companies.
That's an eye-popping number, to be sure, but while Facebook is moving relentlessly toward hitting 700 million users worldwide, much of that growth is being driven by new international members.
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Facebook's domestic numbers, however, are softer. In the United States, the company lost nearly 6 million users, dropping from 155.2 million to 149.4 million by the end of last month.
A spokesperson for Facebook declined to comment, but CNBC reports that the IPO is likely being triggered by the 1934 Securities and Exchange Act known as “the 500 rule,” which requires private companies to begin releasing financial information to the SEC after they attract more than 500 investors.
The company will have hit that mark sometime by next year, so the prevailing wisdom is that Facebook may as well gather some capital if it's going to be subjected to greater public scrutiny anyway.
Last winter, Facebook raised $1.5 billion from Goldman Sachs and other investors, giving it a $50 billion valuation.
In comparison, after Google went public in 2004, it received a post-IPO valuation of $27 billion, while just last month LinkedIn was worth $8.9 billion a day after its shares went on the public market.
To borrow a line from the poster for the Facebook biopic "The Social Network": You don't get to 700 million friends without making an awful lot of money.