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[Status update: Facebook to go public, raise $5B]

NEW YORK (AP) _ Facebook made a much-anticipated status update Wednesday: The Internet social network is going public eight years after its computer-hacking CEO Mark Zuckerberg started the service at Harvard University.

That means anyone with the right amount of cash will be able to own part of a Silicon Valley icon that quickly transformed from dorm-room startup to cultural touchstone.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg smiles as he speaks at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco. Facebook, the social network that changed
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg smiles as he speaks at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco. Facebook, the social network that changed "friend" from a noun to a verb, is expected to file as early as Wednesday to sell stock on the open market. Its debut is likely to be the most talked-about initial public offering since Google in 2004. (AP)

If its initial public offering of stock makes enough friends on Wall Street, Facebook will probably make its stock-market debut in three or four months as one of the world's most valuable companies. Facebook, which is now based in Menlo Park, California, hopes to list its stock under the ticker symbol, “FB,” on the New York Stock Exchange or Nasdaq Stock Market.

In its regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Facebook Inc. indicated it hopes to raise $5 billion in its IPO. That would be the most for an Internet IPO since Google Inc. and its early backers raised $1.9 billion in 2004. The final amount will likely change as Facebook's bankers gauge the investor demand.

Joining corporate America's elite would give Facebook newfound financial clout as it tries to make its service even more pervasive and expand its audience of 845 million users. It also could help Facebook fend off an intensifying challenge from Google, which is looking to solidify its status as the Internet's most powerful company with a rival social network called Plus.

The intrigue surrounding Facebook's IPO has increased in recent months, not only because the company has become a common conduit _for everyone from doting grandmas to sassy teenagers_ to share information about their lives.

Zuckerberg, 27, has emerged as the latest in a lineage of Silicon Valley prodigies who are alternately hailed for pushing the world in new directions and reviled for overstepping their bounds. In Zuckerberg's case, a lawsuit alleging that he stole the idea for Facebook from some Harvard classmates became the grist for a book and a movie that was nominated for an Academy Award last year.

Following the model of Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Zuckerberg set up two classes of stock that will ensure he retains control as the sometimes conflicting demands of Wall Street exert new pressures on the company. He will have the final say on how nearly 57 percent of Facebook's stock votes, according to the filing.

Even before the IPO was filed, Zuckerberg was shaping up as his generation's Bill Gates _ a geek who parlayed his love of computers into fame and fortune. Forbes magazine estimated Zuckerberg's wealth at $17.5 billion in its most recent survey of the richest people in the U.S. A more precise measurement of Zuckerberg's fortune will be available once the IPO is priced and provides a concrete benchmark for determining the value of his nearly 534 million Facebook shares

The IPO will also mint hundreds of Facebook employee as millionaires because they have accumulated stock at lower prices than what the shares are liked to be valued at on the open market. Facebook employed 3,200 people at the end of last year.

Depending on how long regulators take to review Facebook's IPO documents, the company could be making its stock market debut around the time that Zuckerberg celebrates his next birthday in May.

The IPO filing casts a spotlight on some of Facebook's inner workings for the first time. Among other things, the documents reveal the amount of Facebook's revenue, its major shareholders, its growth opportunities and its concerns about its biggest competitive threats.

The documents show, as expected, that Facebook is thriving. The company earned $668 million on revenue of $3.7 billion last year, according to the filing. Both figures nearly doubled from 2010.

What's not in the documents, yet, is Facebook's market value. That figure could hit $100 billion, based on Facebook's rapid growth and the appraisals that steered investors who bought stakes while the company was still private.

Facebook heads a class of Internet startups that have been going public during the past year.

The early crop has included Internet radio service Pandora Media Inc., professional networking service LinkedIn Corp. and daily deals company Groupon Inc. Most of those Internet IPOs haven't lived up to their lofty expectations. The list of disappointments includes Zynga Inc., which has built a profitable business by creating a variety of games to play on Facebook. Zynga's stock fell 5 percent below its IPO price on the first day of trading.

Facebook stands apart, though. As it rapidly expands, people from Silicon Valley to Brazil to India use it to keep up with news from friends and long-lost acquaintances, play mindless games tending virtual cities and farms and share big news or minute details about their days. Politicians, celebrities and businesses use Facebook to connect with fans and the general public.

It's becoming more difficult to tell whether going to Facebook is a pastime or an addiction. In the U.S., Facebook visitors spend an average of seven hours per month on the website each month, more than doubling from an average of three hours per month in 2008, according to the research firm comScore Inc.

More than half of Facebook users log on to the site on any given day. Using software developed by outside parties _ call it the Facebook economy _ they share television shows they are watching, songs they are playing and photos of what they are wearing or eating. Facebook says 250 million photos alone are posted on its site each day.

To make money, Facebook sells the promise of highly targeted advertisements based on the information its users share, including interests, hobbies, private thoughts and relationships. Though most of its revenue comes from ads, Facebook also takes a cut from the money that apps make through its site. For every dollar that “FarmVille” maker Zynga gets for the virtual cows and crops it sells, for example, Facebook gets 30 cents.

For all of Facebook's success, the company has had its share of troubles. It went through a series of privacy missteps over the years as it pushed users to disclose more and more information about themselves. Most recently, the company settled with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission over allegations that it exposed details about people's private lives without getting legally required consent. And the legal fights over Facebook's origins have been embarrassing and sometimes distracting, though Zuckerberg has consistently denied allegations that have depicted him as a ruthless weasel.

Zuckerberg has made it clear he isn't especially keen on leading a public company. He has said many times that he prefers to focus on developing Facebook's products and growing the site's user base, rather than trying to hit quarterly earnings targets in an effort to keep investors happy.

In a letter included in in Wednesday's filing, Zuckerberg paints a rosy, idealistic picture of Facebook.

“Facebook aspires to build the services that give people the power to share and help them once again transform many of our core institutions and industries,” he wrote.

Zuckerberg also pledged to stay true to Facebook's scrappy roots even on the road to becoming a multinational corporation.

“The word “hacker” has an unfairly negative connotation from being portrayed in the media as people who break into computers,” he wrote. “In reality, hacking just means building something quickly or testing the boundaries of what can be done.”

Lately, Zuckerberg has matured into the role, said Scott Kessler, a Standard & Poor's equity analyst who follows Internet stocks.

“Clearly he is a very smart and shrewd person,” he said.

Zuckerberg has surrounded himself with other savvy executives, who are often more experienced. They include Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, who helped build Google's advertising business before Facebook lured her in 2008. Facebook's finance chief is David Ebersman, a former executive at biotech firm Genentech.

Amid the buoyant optimism about Facebook's prospects as a public company, some analysts see troubling parallels to the dot-com boom of the late 1990s, which turned into a devastating bust in the early 2000s. The biggest fear is that some investors will become so enamored with Facebook's brand and brawn that the will try to buy the IPO share with little financial analysis or recognition of the risks.

“It's a one-day circus,” said John Fitzgibbon, founder of

The IPOs of Zynga and LinkedIn showed that success isn't guaranteed even for profitable companies with huge followings. Zynga's stock is currently trading just slightly above its IPO price. LinkedIn is considerably higher, but still far below the $122.70 record that it hit on its first trading day.

“It seems there's so much excitement, innovation around Internet startups in Silicon Valley and yet a lot of these companies ... have not performed well at all,” Kessler said. “The concern is the sustainability of the growth and profitability. It's very, very difficult to prove those things out over a short period of time.”


<한글 기사>

페북 주커버그 돈방석..5조원 IPO신청

창업 8년만…기업가치 최대 1천억불 추정
가입자수 8억4천500만명…작년 매출 37억불

세계최대 소셜네트워크서비스 업체인 페이스북은 1일(현지시간) 50억 달러(5조6천억원 상당)의 자금 조달을 목표로 미국 증권거래위원회(SEC)에 기업공개(IPO)를 신청했다.

페이스북의 IPO는 공동창업자이자 최고경영자(CEO)인 마크 저커버그가 지난 200 4년1월 하버드대학에서 학교 친구들과 창업한 지 8년만이다.

또 2004년 구글이 IPO를 통해 17억 달러를 조달한 이후 인터넷 기업의 IPO로서 는 가장 큰 규모이다.

저커버그는 이날 미래 주주들에게 보내는 서한을 통해 "페이스북은 원래 기업이 되기 위해서라기 보다는 세상을 더 열린 공간으로 만들고 서로 연결되도록 하기 위한 사회적인 임무를 성취하기 위해 만들어졌다"며 "사람들이 기업과 경제에 더욱 잘 연결될 수 있도록 돕겠다"고 말했다.

페이스북은 신청서에서 지난해 37억 달러의 매출을 기록하고 10억 달러의 수익을 올렸다고 밝혔다.

수익의 85%에 해당하는 32억 달러가 광고매출에서 나온 것이며, 나머지 매출은 게임이나 애플리케이션 등 구매에 따른 것으로 파악됐다. 또 전체 매출의 44%가 미국 이외의 지역에서 발생한 것으로 확인됐다.

페이스북은 지난 2009년 7억7천700만달러의 매출을 기록해 2억2천900만달러의 수익을 올려 흑자로 전환한 뒤 지금까지 줄곧 흑자를 기록했다.

이와 함께 지난해 말 현재 실제로 활동 중인 가입자의 수가 8억4천500만명에 달 한다고 공개했다.

페이스북이 뉴욕거래소에서 거래될지 아니면 나스닥에 상장될지 여부는 아직 결 정되지 않았다.

페이스북은 또 IPO를 신청하면서 이번에 매각하게 되는 주식수나 주식가격 정보 등을 언급하지 않는 등 회사 측이 산정한 기업가치에 대해 공개하지 않았다.

애널리스트들은 그러나 현재 페이스북의 가치가 850억달러에서 1천억달러에 달할 것으로 보고 있다.

기업가치를 1천억 달러로 산정할 경우 지분의 24% 정도를 보유하고 있는 것으로 알려진 CEO인 마크 저커버그의 주식평가액은 240억달러(한화 27조원 상당)에 이를 것으로 추정됐다.

그러나 페이스북의 IPO를 계기로 인터넷기업들의 가치가 과대평가되고 있다는

버블(거품) 논쟁이 재연되고 있다고 현지 언론들은 전했다.

이와 관련해 소셜게임업체인 징가는 지난해 8월 기업가치가 140억달러로 추정됐 으나 지난해 말 상장되면서 기업가치가 70억달러 수준으로 하락하는 등 그루폰, 판도라, 링크트인 등의 주가도 상장후 급락세를 면치 못했다.

이밖에 저커버그는 지난해 기본급으로 연봉 50만달러를 받았으며 총액 기준으로 는 148만달러였으나 내년1월1일부터는 1달러를 받기로 했다고 신청서는 전했다.  최

고운영책임자(COO) 셰릴 샌드버그는 지난해 임원 중에 가장 많은 3천90만달러를 받았다.
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