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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Facebook Won't Be Rushed Into Going Public Like Google

Google FriendConnect - Disabled by Facebook
Image by David Recordon via Flickr
from the well,-it's-financials-are-quite-a-bit-worse... dept
Throughout 2002 and 2003 there was a ton of speculation concerning when Google would "finally" go public. Everyone knew the company was making a lot of money and growing fast, but it wasn't clear how big the company was nor how successful. The company's top execs insisted that they did not want to go public and tried to avoid any discussion of it. However, in early 2004, the company tripped a specific level that required them to start reporting their earnings publicly. If you have over 500 shareholders, even as a private company, you are required to file earnings reports, just as if you were a public company -- and at that point, Google execs realized there was no additional benefit in remaining private. So that single event pushed Google to finally IPO, and some were beginning to wonder if the same might push Facebook into an oncoming IPO.
It looks like that won't be happening.
Facebook's lawyers requested and received a special exemption from the SEC, allowing the company to not report its earnings publicly, even if it goes over 500 shareholders (which is likely to happen relatively soon). The exemption will remain in place until the company decides to go public or is acquired. You have to think that some folks at Google are kicking themselves for not trying to do the same thing. Either way, it's pretty clear that Facebook doesn't have the financial numbers that Google had at the time it went public, either -- so forcing Facebook to go public at this time probably would have made a lot less sense than it did for Google, who had fantastic earnings

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