Facebook IPO: Are 800 million users worth $100 billion

Facebook, the most successful social network in history, is close to going public, according to one new report. 

Employees walk past a Facebook logo at the new Facebook HQ in Menlo Park, California.

Facebook, the most popular social networking site in history, is apparently very close to going public. So says the Wall Street Journal, which reports today that the company could file papers for an IPO as soon as Wednesday. 

"At a valuation between $75 billion and $100 billion, Facebook is looking to raise as much as $10 billion, said people familiar with the matter," the Journal reports. "The final valuation will be determined by a variety of factors, people familiar with the matter cautioned, such as investor demand for social media, the IPO market and the health of the European economy." 

With a $100 billion evaluation, Facebook would be worth as much as McDonald's Corp, the Journal added. 

In a separate dispatch, the New York firm PrivCo estimates that Facebook will price its stock between $38 and $40, with Morgan Stanley leading the IPO. Big news for Facebook, obviously, which has been the subject of IPO rumors for months now. 

Of course, as Todd Wasserman of Mashable noted back in late December, social media IPOs did not fare particularly well last year. Of the 19 social media IPOs of 2011, approximately 82 percent were trading at or below their opening day prices, Wasserman writes. Still, it's worth noting that Facebook is not just any social media service. It's the social media service – a tech juggernaut that has absorbed new users with an astonishing alacrity

"The Facebook IPO will be a significant milestone for the Internet and technology industry as Facebook is one of the fastest growing and prominent companies, now with more than 800 million users," writes Tomio Geron of Forbes. "Private companies hoping to go public are closely watching the potential offering, as are venture capitalists hoping to see returns on their companies."

Geron sees some similarity between the Facebook IPO and the Netscape IPO, back in 1995 – a moment that effectively launched the first Internet boom. 

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