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Entries for month: February 2012

Facebook’s IPO: Going public with your privacy

05 February 2012 · By Steve Nilan

Keep your friends close and your shareholders closer.

Facebook last week filed for its long-anticipated initial public offering. The US$5 billion offering is the largest in Silicon Valley history and more than double the size of the still-legendary Google IPO from eight years ago.

This is great news for Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's founder, who could more than double his US$17 billion net worth and jump up to No. 3 on the Forbes list of America's wealthy. The 27-year-old will be just behind Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.

Good for him and the other five Facebook billionaires, right? They created a valuable global enterprise and inspired an Academy Award-winning movie — all from a Harvard dorm room idea.

What does Facebook's fortune mean to you and your fellow 800 million ebook users? The naïve view might be a sense of pride in playing a small role in the biggest business story of the year. Another view is that you and your friends work for Zuckerberg and Co., in their global volunteer sales force.

The initial lure was the usual free Web service, but Facebook's social attractant was so compelling that 800 million of us gladly handed over personal and otherwise private details about ourselves. Privacy is the new currency. Facebook's projected US$100 billion valuation is built on the profiles of its friends and fans. What's fascinating is that Facebook users are not paying customers but are living, breathing assets who contribute directly to Facebook's enterprise value.


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