The social sharing network that Mark Zuckerberg launched in a dorm room graduated big-time today, to the tune of a $104 billion public offering on Wall Street, making it the third largest IPO in history, and biggest ever for a tech company.
After eight years of insinuating its way into the daily lives of billions of people worldwide, Facebook (now known as FB to the NASDAQ index, as well as anyone fluent in Internet shorthand) went public at $38 per share. Zuckerberg rang the opening bell from company headquarters in the Silicon Valley.
May 18, 2012 - New York, New York, U.S. - Pedestrians walk past the NASDAQ stock exchange in New York. Facebook launched its Initial Public Offering (IPO) on Friday. (Credit Image: © Shen Hong/Xinhua/ZUMAPRESS.com)
Insert Facebook privacy joke here -- a Facebook engineer explained today how he hacked the NASDAQ button so that it would immediately post FB to its roster of publicly traded companies, and show up on Zuckerberg's public timeline in real time. (Follow that link to Zuckerberg's timeline for plenty more photos and updates from the company's overnight pre-debut working party.)
The first trades raised the price to $42 per share this morning, and at press time are flat at just over $39. Tech companies LinkedIn, Zynga, Pandora, and Yelp were likely not liking this at all, as they were all down shortly after Facebook's debut.
Sarah Perez at TechCrunch said the news was so big, her inbox was empty -- as PR people seemed to give up pitching other stories.
Facebook goes public after a week in which GM, one of its biggest advertisers, jumped ship, saying its $10 million in advertising didn't generate sales. Asking if GM "popped the Facebook bubble," Liz Peek says:
Here’s a secret from someone who used to do this for a living: No one can possibly know what this company is worth. The entire social media space is evolving, advertising is in the midst of a gigantic upheaval, new companies are born every day that are targeting the Facebook audience and the fidelity of the company’s users is a complete unknown. Throw in a couple of economic variables such as the outlook for the recovery and for corporate profits and you have the kind of uncertainty soup that often spills into IPO valuations.
In short, Facebook may well turn out to be a terrific investment, but I wouldn’t bet the ranch.
In its own IPO filing, Facebook said, “We believe that most advertisers are still learning and experimenting with the best ways to leverage Facebook to create more social and valuable ads. And with $3 billion in sales last year? It sounds like they have a lot to work with as they figure this out.
Meanwhile, back at Facebook headquarters, the mimosas were flowing, and bleary-eyed employees were celebrating, at least for today. Mashable made a playlist to go with the debut, which stands to make at least Zuckerberg (who just turned 28), along with COO Sheryl Sandberg, billionaires.
We'll be keeping tabs on this story as it develops.
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