Facebook: Use it. 'Like' it. But, buy it?
May 17th, 2012
03:15 PM ET

Facebook: Use it. 'Like' it. But, buy it?

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.

Timeline: Mark Zuckerberg's rise from child prodigy to Facebook billionaire

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.

Why Facebook won't start trading at the opening bell 

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.

Infographic: Life on Planet Facebook

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:

A look at the IPO price range: Everything you need to know about Facebook's valuation and financials

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:

How small investors can get in on Facebook IPO: A guide to how to buy 

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?

Facebook's new billionaires

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.

188 million – Number of people in theU.S.andCanadathat log onto Facebook daily.

$4.84 – Approximate amount of annual revenue that Facebook earns off of each user.

85% – Percentage of Facebook’s revenue that comes from advertising.

$10 million – Amount that GM spent on advertising on Facebook in 2011.

$0 – Amount that GM plans to spend on Facebook advertising in the future.

421 million – Number of shares that Facebook will offer for sale to investors on May 18th.

$34-$38 – The expected selling prices of shares in Facebook .

$16 billion – The amount that Facebook will raise if all 421 million shares sell for $38 each.

$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.

388 million – Number of black hoodies that you can buy at Gap.com with $17.5 billion.

1.4 billion – Numbers of copies of The Social Network that you could buy on Amazon.com with $17.5 billion.

1.3 billion – Population of China, as of 2011.

485 million – Number of internet users in China.

3 – Number of years that Facebook has been blocked in China by censors.

1,781 – Number of Americans who gave theirU.S.citizenship in 2011, including Eduardo Saverin, co-founder of Facebook.

$100 million – Estimated amount of money in taxes that Saverin will save by renouncing his citizenship.

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.

soundoff (64 Responses)
  1. Bobs your uncle

    "Like grousing about politicians but forgetting to vote.."
    Because voting for one rich crook or the other rich crook will make all the difference.

    And who says "grousing" anymore?

    May 17, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • dave

      Sens. Schumer of New York and Casey of Pennsylvania want high-earning Americans who renounce their citizenship — like Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin, who stands to make billions when the company goes public tomorrow — to prove they didn't do it to avoid paying taxes . BOYCOTT Facebook

      May 17, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jwl

    I've never clicked a Facebook ad even accidentally so they must be good at making it unobtrusive. But the past few days I've started seeing 'trending articles' pop up in my feed & there is no way to turn it off. This is really the first time Facebook does something that annoys me... I hope this doesn't continue. I don't care what news articles people on Facebook are reading as its always something liberal that I am not interested in. Let me turn this off.

    May 17, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Coriana

    The ' like' button is an issue for many including myself and not because of advertisements either the issue is on your own facebook page with your own friends. The 'like' button should have been used for clicking ' advertisements and the such' but when it comes to your friends ' like' button on your profile it is the most impersonal button ever created. Especially when you take the time to post a text , you sit wondering what do they like about it? Could it be the entire thing could it be just one specific sentence. There is no feedback reply that you can give back. It's cold the ' like' button impersonally cold , I say!!

    May 17, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Save Us Jeebus!

    Left facebook in 2009 and haven't gone back. Have fun with that, kids!

    May 17, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cynders

      Never had a page, never will! Have only seen one page & that was a friend showing me what it was all about. Who needs to know what I am having for dinner or that the grandkids are visiting. If you are my 'friend' you know most everything you need to know!

      May 21, 2012 at 8:59 am | Report abuse |
  5. Emma

    NOOOOO! I love facebook. It is the only way I can keep in touch with my bff, other friends, and my family. I will miss u Facebook. 😦

    May 17, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  6. rad666

    Paige Parkerson Allegedly Murders Clifton 'JR' Barkin

    Parkerson, whose Facebook page lists her favorite quotation as, "if looks could kill i would be da murder of all my haters,"

    So, she posts her propensity to kill on Facebook and the company did nothing to alert authorities?

    May 17, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  7. DG

    FB itself is very much like a game, amid socially with content feed by gamers: so people suck the sucks, kidding the kidding! So potential fun interacts with social maniac that quickly fades as background noisy..Good for business harvesting people's hidden private information which will normally don't display at all...Hopefully it wouldn't be a giant tulip in the end.

    May 17, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Kevin

    If a "friend" is too lazy to call, or send me a private email with their big news, well, they can go pound sand, because refuse to look it up on FB..... REAL friends call each other, facebook "friends" are a joke

    May 17, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Emma

      no because what if your friends parents are very strict? huh? YEAH. So FACEBOOK friends are NOT a joke.

      May 17, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  9. David

    Why IPO now? Facebook has peaked, therefore logically you would sell high. It's only going downhill after IPO.

    May 17, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  10. JackDW

    Facebook is past it already, and if you've been around the block, you know it's not the first social network. They all come & go as time goes on. The party moves.
    Invest in it only if you want to risk timing the classic pump & dump pattern that will surely occur. Frankly, there are better investments.

    May 17, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  11. ted


    May 17, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Dan T

    How will the stock react when people realize that ~75% of facebook accounts are actually fake people? The company should change its name to Fakebook.

    May 17, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  13. sameeker

    So a company is selling stock. Whoopeee! It is not a national holiday. I turn CNN on every morning when I get up and have heard nothing but this for the last week. It is not the biggest news in the world.

    May 17, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Pat

    Left facebook months ago & have no intention on returning. It's a waste of time. Don't let it also be a waste of your money.

    May 17, 2012 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Zeke2112

    "I don't use Facebook. The way I maintain friendships should be the way you maintain friendships. If you don't maintain friendships the way I do, your friends suck and you're a loser. You should be writing to friends using ink pens and sending them Polaroids through the mail. You should be looking up classmates in the white pages. You should be calling all 60 people in your family if you have big news instead of pushing it to a site they all visit in 30 seconds."

    Now that I've summed up every self-righteous whiner posting on here, here's my real opinion: keeping in touch with friends and family is important – however you do it. Don't let anyone tell you how to live your life or try to make you feel as though your method results in weaker relationships 🙂

    May 17, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
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