Facebook files for initial public stock offering

Los Angeles Times

NEW YORK — Facebook has filed papers for what’s expected to be the largest initial public offering ever to come out of Silicon Valley and one of the largest in U.S. history.

Ending months of breathless speculation, the 8-year-old social networking company has submitted registration documents with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that set a preliminary goal of raising $5 billion. Facebook is expected to be valued at $75 billion to $100 billion.

Final pricing will not be set for months, and the size of the IPO probably will increase with investor demand. The filing sets the stage for an IPO in May.

The IPO prospectus provides the first detailed look inside Facebook’s finances and operations.

The company reported revenue last year of $3.7 billion up 88 percent from a year earlier and a profit of $1 billion. It also laid out the 2011 compensation for its top executives, which amounted to $1.5 million for its founder and chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, and $30.9 million for its high-profile chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg. The documents make it clear that Zuckerberg, a hands-on leader, will retain control over the company even after the stock offering because of special shares he will own that carry 10 times the voting rights of public shares.

Although some of Facebook’s 845 million users had hoped that they might be given access to the initial public offering, the document suggests that it will be run according to standard Wall Street protocol, with shares distributed by the investment banks leading the effort.

The offering is being run jointly by the nation’s largest investment banks, including Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co., with Morgan Stanley taking the coveted lead position. Morgan Stanley’s resume of recent Internet IPOs includes Groupon Inc. and Zynga Inc. Investment banks will receive as much as $500 million in fees, depending on the valuation.

In a personal letter from Zuckerberg that is included in the prospectus, he explains Facebook’s philosophy, which he describes as the “Hacker Way.”

Hackers believe that the best idea and implementation should always win _ not the person who is best at lobbying for an idea or the person who manages the most people,” the letter says.

He argues in the letter that Facebook should be viewed differently by investors than other public companies because it was not founded with the intention of making money.

Simply put: We don’t build services to make money; we make money to build better services,” the letter says. “These days I think more and more people want to use services from companies that believe in something beyond simply maximizing profits.”

Facebook, one of the world’s best-known brands, is an international phenomenon, touching the lives of more than 800 million people around the globe.

The IPO was inevitable. Facebook had tripped the regulatory wire that forces companies with more than 500 shareholders to disclose almost as much information as publicly traded companies.

The IPO will create enormous wealth in Silicon Valley and more than 1,000 new millionaires among the company’s 3,200 employees, which many hope will give a boost to the local economy, including the housing market and car sales.