Facebook IPO seeks to raise $13.6B, valuation up to $88B

Facebook has set pricing details for its IPO, paving the way for a mid-May offering. Expect the road show to begin on Monday.

Paul Sloan Former Editor
Paul Sloan is editor in chief of CNET News. Before joining CNET, he had been a San Francisco-based correspondent for Fortune magazine, an editor at large for Business 2.0 magazine, and a senior producer for CNN. When his fingers aren't on a keyboard, they're usually on a guitar. Email him here.
Paul Sloan
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Mark Zuckerberg at F8 in 2010
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Facebook is now seeking to raise as much as $13.6 billion in its IPO, according to an SEC filing today, which would value the company at roughly $88 billion. The company is aiming to price its shares between $28 and $35.

This paves for the way for Facebook and its bankers to begin the road show on Monday, with shares to start trading on May 17 or 18. While this valuation is lower than the $100 billion that has often been cited, the price will likely change depending on the success of the road show.

The valuation cited above is based on data from PrivCo, a firm that digs into private company data. CEO Sam Hamadeh calculated the value using 2.513 billion fully diluted shares outstanding, including options and vested stock grants.

Today's SEC filing follows weeks of speculation that the IPO might be pushed back to June -- or even later -- because CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been spending a ton of money buying Instagram and a trove of patents from Microsoft. All of which gave the SEC examiners more work to do before signing off on the IPO.

While Facebook's bankers have already been unofficially feeling out demand for the IPO among big money managers, this was just part of the pre-road show dance. Now comes the real thing, where the Wall Street gang travels around with key executives to fill the so-called order book.

The road show, too, has led to much speculation over whether Zuckerberg himself would even participate. Although the road show will lean heavily on the participation of COO Sheryl Sandberg and CFO David Ebersman, Zuckerberg will also play a role.

Zuckerberg takes part in a video pitch for investors, which you can see on Facebook's site here.

Zuckerberg will presumably shed his hoodie for a coat and tie and play along in the interest of drumming up demand for what should be the biggest Internet IPO in history. As well he should, considering he owns about 28 percent of the stock and 57 percent of its class B shares, giving him outsized voting power. The New York Times reports that Facebook executives will meet in New York tomorrow with the sales forces of the company's underwriters to talk through the presentation. They'll then shop the prospectus to prospective investors. The stock will trade under the ticker symbol FB.

Even though Facebook's growth slowed in the last quarter, demand for the IPO is still likely to be off-the-charts. The bet is that Zuck and team will figure out a way to turn Facebook's unprecedented user base -- now more than 900 million strong -- into a cash machine. And with so much hype around the IPO, money mangers will likely fear missing out.

No one will be surprised if the bankers and Facebook adjust the price higher in the coming weeks. Then, if all goes as planned, Zuckerberg will ring the bell at the Nasdaq MarketSite at Times Square, just days after he celebrates his 28th birthday.

It'll be a memorable birthday.

Updated at 2:15 p.m. PT to include new information.