updated 05:20 pm EST, Wed February 1, 2012
Facebook moves to go public
Facebook on Wednesday uncovered its poorly-guarded secret and filed the S-1 form needed to make an initial public offering of stock, or IPO. The company is hoping to raise a steep $5 billion from the share offering, although Facebook isn't willing to commit to a valuation on how much the company is worth. It did confirm that it had 845 million total users, about 483 million of which sign in to the social network every day and 425 million on mobile.
Morgan Stanley would underwrite the IPO, which was more than twice as much the $1.9 billion that Google asked for in 2004. It revealed that it had made $1 billion in profit on $3.7 billion of revenue just in 2011, the revenue itself a 47 percent increase over 2010.
In a letter linked to the IPO, founder Mark Zuckerberg said that Facebook hadn't originally been meant as a company but was meant to "accomplish a social mission" of connecting people. He hoped to "rewire" the way people both send and receive information. Getting extra funding would "accelerate" that process, he argued.
The filing could significantly expand Facebook's capacity in several directions, including content deals, sheer capacity, and rumored projects such as a self-developed smartphone. An IPO had been almost necessary as Facebook was already straining the limit of private investors, having received an extension past the 500-person limit in 2008. Without the S-1, Facebook might have still had to disclose some of its performance to the public without the benefits of the extra funding.