The social network site Facebook will float on the stock market later this year. Facebook plans to raise $5 billion in an initial public offering, which would make founder Mark Zuckerberg one of the wealthiest men alive.
The world's largest online social network, Facebook, on Wednesday took an early step towards floating on the US stock exchange later this year. The California-based company submitted its regulatory filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday, stating its intention to raise roughly 3.8 billion euros ($5 billion) in an initial public offering (IPO).
That figure is lower than previously predicted and is subject to change, but would still constitute the largest flotation of an Internet company in history. Google's 2004 IPO generated $1.9 billion.
The eight-year-old company that began in founder Mark Zuckerberg's dorm room at Harvard University intends to trade under the ticker symbol "FB" on either the New York Stock Exchange or the Nasdaq.
Into the top 10
Zuckerberg, who is 27 years old, could retain the final say over as much as 57 percent of Facebook's stock through proxy agreements with fellow stockholders. The deal is also likely to easily catapult him into the top 10 wealthiest people in the world. US magazine Forbes estimated the Facebook founder's wealth at $17.5 billion in its most recent survey of America's richest people.
Facebook, a social networking site where people can chat, share photos, videos and other data, has an audience of 845 million users. Of those, 443 million log on every day. In essence, these users are not customers, but rather Facebook's product and source of income.
The company generates its revenue, for the most part, by selling advertising space. The information people enter on Facebook about their hobbies, interests and habits enable companies to launch targeted online advertising campaigns.
Facebook generated $3.71 billion in revenue in 2011, scooping a net profit of over $1 billion.
Some investors, however, suspect that the company's popularity might have peaked - pointing to rival online platforms like Twitter and Google's latest rival service, Google+.
msh/ng (AP, Reuters)