Eight years after Mark Zuckerberg launched the world’s largest social media site from his Harvard dorm room, Facebook has finally decided to go public, aspiring to fetch $5 billion for its recent IPO.
The move will turn many of the company’s employees into instant millionaires, including not only former secretaries but the graffiti artist who painted its first office walls for stock shares now worth $200 million.
When the company finally makes its debut on the stock market in another three to four months, it will make history as one of the world’s most valuable companies. It’s expected to be the largest IPO ever, far out-shadowing Google historic $1.9 billion raised when it went public in 2004. Though valuations will naturally adjust to the market, and plenty of tech-saavy startups like Groupon, LinkedIn and Zynga failed to reach their initial estimated values, Facebook stands to be the largest financial powerhouse in the history of the Internet.
It’s a move that Zuckerberg has been putting off for years in order to maintain the company’s privacy and encourage innovation, though he has always acknowledged that an IPO would be inevitable. Secondary markets and special stock sale programs allowed some employees to sell off some of their stock for liquidity, take the pressure off the procrastinated IPO for a number of years.
The company had received an exemption from the SEC to avoid the “500 shareholders” rule mandating the company release financial public figures by arguing that most of its shareholders were employees.
In addition to stock market interest, Facebook’s IPO has been the talk of the web since its recent announcement, as the filing forced the company to reveal many of its secrets, allowing the Internet community to finally get to look behind the curtain to see how the company ticked.
The company has 845 million monthly users, more than half of which check the site daily, and more than half do so on mobile devices. In its filing, the company admitted it has not yet to begun to monetize on its mobile platform as the mobile version currently lacks advertising.
Facebook now stores over 100 petabytes of data, or the equvialant of 100 quadrillion bytes, which sounds like kid’s speak for “a heckuva lot.” On $3.7 billion in revenues, it earned $1 billion in profits for 2011, about 10 times the $106 million Google made the year it filed for its IPO.
Zuckerberg is the company’s largest shareholder at 28 percent of the company. That’s pretty good wages for a guy who now makes $1 a year, as he took the salary scale of Steve Jobs, though of course its the stock that pays his bills and those signature styling sandals.