Report: Facebook letting employees unload stock options?

A rumor hints that current employees of the company may be able to cash out on a portion of their stock options starting this fall.

If you see an increase in the number of 20-somethings driving nice cars around Palo Alto any time soon, maybe this is why: VentureBeat reported Monday that Facebook is ready to let current employees unload a fifth of their stock options, at the company's internal valuation of $4 billion. It's slated to start this fall. For early employees of the company, which was founded in a Harvard dorm room , this could mean some legit cash.

Facebook's valuation was reported at $15 billion when Microsoft took a $240 million stake last year , but the company has backtracked on that number, referring to it as a "business deal" rather than a former paper valuation. Microsoft's stake was considered to be in "preferred stock," whereas the $4 billion valuation refers to common stock.

The company's actual valuation came under scrutiny in the last throes of the ConnectU vs. Facebook trial , in which plaintiff ConnectU's founders cried foul that their erstwhile rival hadn't disclosed its true worth during the legal process.

If VentureBeat's report is true, this could be a sign that another way for Facebook employees to cash in their stock--an initial public offering or a sale to a big tech or media company--isn't on the immediate horizon. It also might raise a few eyebrows: for a young corporation still abiding by a mantra of " growth over profits ," employees selling stock could seem a little bit presumptuous.

Facebook representatives were not immediately available for comment.

About the author

Caroline McCarthy, a CNET News staff writer, is a downtown Manhattanite happily addicted to social-media tools and restaurant blogs. Her pre-CNET resume includes interning at an IT security firm and brewing cappuccinos.


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