It started as the little engine that maybe, possibly could. Facebook swirled around college campuses and became a way to find out a little bit more about your classmates. But when the site went mainstream, it spread like a digital wildfire and in eight years it has gone from the little engine that could into the juggernaut tank in the social media world.
Now, the company's long road to an initial public offering is officially coming to an end. And today it will fill in one last piece of the puzzle: It's final IPO price.
It's not just the talk of the town or Silicon Valley, but about to be the talk of .... well, everyone. Want perspective? Facebook could raise as much as $16 billion in its IPO. That would make it the largest tech IPO in history - and the third largest U.S. IPO ever, trailing only the $19.7 billion raised by Visa in March 2008 and the $18.1 billion raised by automaker General Motors in November 2010, according to rankings by Thomson Reuters.
So as the big day approaches we wanted to give you a little insight into the company and the ins and outs of going public.
A look at the hottest ticket in town
Some days you love Facebook. Some days you want to delete your profile, run away and never, ever return. Since Facebook's big foray into mass-market appeal, you'll always hear arguments for both.
It's been lauded for helping connect generations. It's also been called things that make you think it's the devils spawn.
Many of our readers have been weighing in on why they shun the site and how they have or are preparing to deactivate their account. In fact, you could argue, Facebook bashing is often a topic of posts on the site. "Why isn't there a dislike button?" "I hate the new timeline." If you search any tech blog, on any given week, you can probably find two or three anti-Facebook stories. It's the cool thing to do. There's always a gripe that users have with Facebook, many that are valid, and some that are just ridiculous. But it shows the deep divide over whether Facebook has been a great advancement for us as a culture.
But there's also a lot of people who will tell you they don't understand all the hatred. Omar Gallaga is one of them. Gallaga is a tech-culture reporter for the Austin American-Statesman and a technology contributor to CNN.com, NPR and Kirkus Reviews. He's got more than 1,000 friends on Facebook. For him, like many others, the site gives him the chance to occasionally catch up with friends he can't connect with otherwise. And he argues that while many will continue to gripe, eventually they find their way back to the site. That's why he says he'll probably never leave Facebook.
"In large part, the people who say they're leaving Facebook don't. Or they quit and come back," he wrote in a column for CNN.com. "Me, I'm staying put. At this point, complaining about Facebook is like grousing about the electric company while watching TV, or saying how lousy politicians are but forgetting to vote. Facebook just is. It's become an institution - one that's going to be around for a long while - and all the missteps it's made in its young, eight-year life have never prompted significant user defection."
So you wanna buy Facebook?
Some of you may share this post on Facebook after you're done reading it, and if you do you contribute in large part to the success that Facebook has and that's led it to this point. So, maybe you're thinking of trying to make some money off of it.
Where do you start? CNNMoney.com has you covered.
Wondering if it's going to hurt your wallet to get in on the hottest sale of the year? You'll want to know this:
But maybe you're not a Wall Street or investment maven, but you're wondering if you can still buy a piece of the pie. If that's the case, you're going to want to take a read of this story:
And you can always follow along with as CNNMoney.com staffers write about their attempts to buy the IPO.
So, just how rich will Mark Zuckerberg get and what does it mean for Facebook's future?
If you're thinking, sure I'd like to get in on the Facebook game, but will I really benefit or am I just making the Facebook founder's pockets a little deeper?
There's a bit of both.
Zuckerberg is expected to raise $1 billion cash from Facebook IPO. And employees that will be selling their shares stand to make a decent bit of cash too - but being a paper millionaire means they'll also be giving Uncle Sam – and California - a big cut.
Okay, you don't care about the folks who are already rich. You want to make some dough here yourself. After all, you've liked every musician and TV show you listen to and watch and you update your Facebook status from your computer when you leave work and your phone when you get home.
If you want to know if the Facebook IPO will actually give you the bang for the buck, you've got to read this piece from Fortune that takes a look at whether Facebook's IPO will pay off for investors?
Still, there's the question of whether it's a good idea to buy Facebook right now. Some investment pros say the company's valuation is bonkers. And there's been some unfortunate statistics and timing for Facebook lately. Their metrics show slowing engagement, and IPO paperwork raises some red flags about its mobile user growth.
So, before you go ahead and look up E*TRADE and put your money where your fast-typing fingers are, you'll want to see this Fortune piece on five reasons not to "like" the Facebook IPO.
Facebook by the numbers
Sometimes, the numbers really do tell the story. How far is Facebook's reach? What impact does it have in the social media world? We're taking a closer look at the numbers, and how it compares to other companies out there, to shine a brighter light on Facebook's value.
900 million – Number of Facebook’s average monthly users in 2012.
$10 million – Amount that GM spent on advertising on Facebook in 2011.
$17.5 billion – Mark Zuckerberg’s net worth in March 2012, according to Forbes.
$17.5 billion – Amount of money lost by JPMorgan Chase & Co in the last week.
1.3 billion – Population of China, as of 2011.
485 million – Number of internet users in China.
What do you think about Facebook going public? Will the company last, or is it merely a passing fad? Do you know of a start-up company that you think may be the next big thing or an entrepreneur who may be the next Mark Zuckerberg? Let us know what you think in the comments below.