IPO to value Facebook at $100bn
Facebook could be valued at a staggering $100 billion when it launches its long-awaiting IPO, according to speculation on Wall Street.
According to CNBC, private markets that track Facebook shares believe the recent $50 billion valuation that followed investment from Goldman Sachs will be eclipsed when the company floats. Facebook is expected to announce its plans before the end of the year with an IPO likely some time next year.
A $100 billion valuation would make Facebook one of the world's biggest companies by stock market capitalisation.
To provide some context, the Financial Times Global 500 put Microsoft at $257 billion at the end of last year, behind PetroChina ($329 billion) and Exxon Mobil ($316 billion).
Apple was fifth at $213 billion, with Google 30th at $139 billion. At $100 billion, Facebook would have been 50th, ahead of Britain's GlaxoSmithKline.
Going public would require Facebook to report on its financial performance, something it is not obligated to do as a privately-held company. This means that its flotation will be eagerly-awaited not only by investors and stock watchers, but also tech bloggers and commentators.
Facebook is the poster boy of the second tech bubble and there will be no shortage of people keen to get a look under the hood. With 600 million members worldwide, there will be a great deal of interest in how well Facebook has monetised its huge global audience.
The timing of the IPO is likely to be determined by Facebook's number of investors. The US regulator imposes certain reporting requirements when the number of private investors reaches 500, which the company looks set to hit next year.
"Employees also are antsy to be able to sell the stock they've been accumulating in Facebook," the Wall Street Journal said on its Dear Journal blog. "The company has closed the door to employee stock sales in private markets such as Second Market and SharesPost, which have provided a controversial venue to buy and sell shares of non-public companies."
The employee angle is likely to be a major concern for Facebook, as it faces a real battle with Google, Apple, Microsoft and the like for Silicon Valley's most talented individuals.