Is life as we know it gonna change after 11am New York time on Friday?
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Facebook launched the process for its highly anticipated stock market debut, filing papers for a $5bn initial public offering that will turn key shareholders into billionaires, most notably Mark Zuckerberg, the 27-year-old chief executive and co-founder, reports the FT. Mr Zuckerberg will retain absolute control over the company. He and his close allies own 57 per cent. Mr Zuckerberg’s own 28.4 per cent stake would give him a paper worth of $22.7bn, based on secondary market trading, valuing Facebook at $80bn. Separately, the FT says Facebook’s figures suggest that its advertising base has yet to develop as far as many of its supporters had hoped – though it has already achieved strong profitability. The WSJ says Facebook’s annual revenue growth is slower than other tech companies who have staged IPOs recently.
Facebook’s share price has fallen 8 per cent since July, to $32.10 in a SharesPost auction held last week, valuing the entire company at roughly $77bn, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. The fact that the once-dizzying rise in the value of privately owned Facebook has slowed is possibly a sign that the social network hasn’t been immune to broader market volatility or the weakness in the global economy, the paper says. Facebook is still expected to make one of the largest US initial public offerings ever next year. Until then, the stock continues to trade on secondary marketplaces where wealthy investors and institutions can purchase shares offered mostly by former employees. Facebook share prices surged 70 per cent to $34 in March from December. Bur investors and analysts warn the price of Facebook’s stock, owned mostly by employees and outside investors, can’t easily be pinned down because trades take place in a variety of venues, some of which don’t disclose the prices, the WSJ says. Valuations based on just a few buyers and sellers might not be reflective of how a company would be valued if millions of shares were traded publicly.
Internet entrepreneurs confronted their would-be regulators in Deauville on Thursday as the leaders of Facebook, Google and other technology companies warned the G8 leaders to tread carefully in attempting to police the web, the FT reports. Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, and Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google, said that mooted rules on copyright or privacy could stymie innovation and inhibit the free expression that fuelled the recent Arab uprisings. Usually fierce competitors, the two groups joined forces to resist proposed new rules to “civilise” the internet, championed by French president Nicolas Sarkozy, the meeting’s host.
Facebook is fighting to make its presence felt in Washington ahead of growing political scrutiny of its stance on privacy and China, the WSJ reports. The social network company’s lobbying efforts have led to a new office being set up inside the Beltway. However, plans to hire the former White House press chief Robert Gibbs have fallen through and Facebook has said it is open to playing by China’s rules in expanding there, a stance on censorship that is likely to attract political heat. The company is now looking to hire lobbyists with deep congressional experience. Meanwhile, President Barack Obama heads to Facebook headquarters to sell tax hikes for billionaires on Wednesday, Reuters reports.
Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, the identical twins who claimed Mark Zuckerberg stole their idea for building the social network that became Facebook, lost their final battle with the company in US courts on Monday, exhausting legal options for claiming any further stake in the company, reports the FT. The twins, whose initial claims against Facebook were popularised in the film, The Social Network, asked a US federal appeals court in January to dissolve the handwritten settlement agreement they signed with Facebook, including cash and stock valued at $65m. They claimed that Facebook did not provide accurate information on its valuation and they should have the opportunity to renegotiate the settlement. The court rejected the claim. The WSJ has more detail.
Facebook announced it would offer @facebook.com e-mail addresses to its 500m members, as it unveiled a major expansion into messaging systems, the FT reports. The upgrade to Facebook’s Messages service will put it in competition with browser-based e-mail services from Microsoft, Yahoo and Google and open up its service and users to e-mail from outside Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder, told a news conference in San Francisco on Monday that the idea was to combine e-mail with instant messaging, texting and conversations in a seamless way, with e-mail becoming less important over time. “It will always be a part [of messaging] and maybe it can help push the way people do messaging more towards this kind of seamless, simple, real-time, immediate personal experience; that’s what we’re trying to do,” he said. Meanwhile Reuters reports that Google unveiled the latest version of its Android smartphone software on Monday, which will allow customers to use handsets instead of credit cards to pay at shops and restaurants.