Facebook, the world’s largest Internet social network, is preparing for a initial public offering (IPO) next year, according to a source familiar with the matter.
Facebook is exploring raising $10 billion, the Wall Street Journal said on Monday. It hopes the offering will value the company at more than $100 billion, according to WSJ, which first reported the story.Facebook’s Chief Financial Officer, David Ebersman, had discussed a public float with Silicon Valley bankers but founder and Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg had not decided on any terms and his plans could change, the Journal said.
The social network, which now claims more than 800 million members after seven years of explosive growth, has not selected bankers to manage what would be a very closely watched IPO. But it had drafted an internal prospectus and was ready at any moment to pull the IPO trigger, the Journal said.
At $100 billion valuation, the company started by Zuckerberg in a Harvard dorm room would have double the valuation of Hewlett-Packard, the Journal said.
A formal S-1 filing could come before the end of the year, though nothing was decided, the newspaper added.
Silicon Valley start-ups have this year begun to test investor appetite for a new wave of dotcoms. If it does debut in 2012, Facebook’s IPO would dwarf that of any other dotcom waiting to go public.
“Farmville” creator Zynga has filed for an IPO of up to $1 billion. In November, daily deals service Groupon debuted with much fanfare, only to plunge below its IPO price within weeks.
LinkedIn and Pandora are now also trading significantly below the levels their stocks reached during their public debuts earlier this year.
Facebook has become one of the world’s most popular Web destinations, challenging established companies such as Google and Yahoo for consumers’ online time and for advertising dollars.
Facebook does not disclose its financial results, but a source familiar with the situation told Reuters earlier this year that the company’s revenue in the first six months of 2011 doubled year-on-year to $1.6 billion.