No one is buying Facebook, it's going public

Ronny Kerr · May 20, 2011 · Short URL:

COO Sheryl Sandberg confirms business plan for the largest social networking company in the world

After a week of LinkedIn IPO fervor, supporting and denying analysis and endless comparisons to the social networking site to rule them all, Facebook, a representative from that company has decided to let slip a few (not-so-surprising) revelations.

"It's a process that all companies go through. It's an inevitable process for us, the next thing that happens," said Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg at the Reuters Global Technology Summit on Thursday. "People used to ask us if we were going to get sold. People have stopped asking that question — we're not ... No one is buying us, we're going public."

So that’s it. Not Apple nor Google nor Microsoft nor any other tech giant has pockets deep enough to buy Facebook. The company has its sights set on an IPO.

Naturally, Sandberg declined to comment on when that IPO is coming.

The closest estimate we have from inside the company is late 2012, at the earliest, as offered by Peter Thiel, one of Facebook’s earliest investors and one of its few sitting board members. On the other hand, when Facebook in January confirmed having raised $1.5 billion from Goldman Sachs and Digital Sky Technologies (DST), the company also said it would start filing public financial reports no later than April 30, 2012.

Whether that means IPO or not is up in the air.

There might be one thing holding back Facebook from going public just yet, and it’s a country with a population over a billion.

"Our company mission is really clear, which is we want to connect the whole world," said Sandberg. "And it's impossible to think about connecting the whole world right now without also connecting China."

Entering China successfully is vital to Facebook’s mission, however, doing so without upsetting the Chinese state and simultaneously avoiding controversy will prove to be a delicate and difficult dance. Just ask Google about that one.

To learn more about the social media company IPO--and what we can learn about it based on LinkedIn--read our market cap and revenue analysis from yesterday on several of the hottest tech companies.

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