Facebook planning IPO on $100 billion valuation?

CNBC is reporting that the social network could be planning to go public early next year at a valuation of $100 billion.

Don Reisinger
CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
2 min read

Facebook is likely planning an initial public offering for early next year, a new report claims.

According to a CNBC report, Facebook is eying a public offering of its shares in the first quarter of 2012. CNBC, citing people "familiar with the matter," said that shares of the world's largest social network will be offered based on a valuation of more than $100 billion.

CNBC reports that Facebook might be pushed into filing for an IPO because of a clause in the 1934 Securities and Exchange Act that requires private companies to release quarterly financial data when they have 500 or more owners. CNBC's sources said Facebook could hit the 500-person investor mark sometime this year, and make its IPO intentions known before that.

If Facebook is valued at $100 billion, the company would become one of the biggest companies in the technology industry. Apple, the top company in the market, is currently valued at more than $300 billion. Microsoft's market capitalization stands at nearly $203 billion, while Google is valued at $162 billion. At $100 billion, Facebook would be worth more than Cisco, Hewlett-Packard, Canon, and a slew of other firms.

The $100 billion valuation becomes all the more impressive when one considers how quickly Facebook would get there. In January, a report from The New York Times claimed the social network was raising $500 million from Goldman Sachs and Digital Sky Technologies on a valuation of $50 billion.

Speculation that the social network would file for an IPO first started in 2009 when it modified its stock structure to make a public filing easier. After deciding against an IPO, Facebook was once again the subject of rumors suggesting the company would go public this year. Not long after those rumors cropped up, a Bloomberg report claimed Facebook wasn't even considering the possibility of an IPO until 2012 at the earliest.

But recent successes by online companies on the stock market might have changed management's outlook on going public.

Last month, LinkedIn offered its shares on the New York Stock Exchange for $45. In its first day, the company's stock rose to a high of $122.70 before closing at $94.25--a 109 percent gain. That success was quickly followed by last month's IPO of Russian search engine Yandex. The company's shares started their first day of trading at $25, and ended up to $37.75.

Several companies are already trying to capitalize on the market's seeming desire to add hot Web brands to their portfolios. Last week, Pandora announced that it had upped its IPO price to $10 to $12 per share. Earlier this month, daily-deals provider Groupon filed for an IPO of its own that's valued at $750 million.

Facebook declined to comment on CNBC's report.