The Initial Public Offering (IPO) for Facebook is expected to be filed as early as Wednesday (Feb. 1). An IPO is the first sale of stock by a company to the public and the papers being filed would mean Facebook is on the way to that, after a roughly three-month period where the company is closely scrutinized.
But in an interesting twist on things, there is speculation that the IPO will make a small portion of shares available for smaller investors as a goodwill gesture to its millions of users. Typically when a highly-coveted company goes public, the shares are meted out to hedge funds, mutual funds and extremely rich individuals. Facebook is expected to follow in the footsteps of Google, whose founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin wanted an IPO that was accessible to all investors and said so when they filed publicly.
The Facebook IPO is expected to be valued in the neighborhood of $75 billion to $100 billion, making it the largest internet company IPO and the fourth-largest IPO ever behind Visa, General Motors and AT&T Wireless, according to Dealogic.
Facebook, which was started just eight years ago by 19-year-old Mark Zuckerberg, has topped 800 million users worldwide and is expected to hit the 1 billion mark sometime this year.