Facebook is looking at raising as much as $US10 billion in an initial public offering, which would make it the largest-ever technology IPO, even trumping Google.
The social media giant is inching closer to an IPO that it hopes will value the company at more than $US100 billion. It’s believed the company is targeting a timeframe of April to June 2012.
Facebook’s $US100 billion valuation would be twice as high as it was in January, when the company announced a $US1.5 billion investment from Goldman Sachs Group and other backers.
The company is aiming to capitalise on strong demand for social networking IPOs.
At $US10 billion, the offering would raise more money than any other technology IPO, suggesting Facebook expects investors to clamour for a piece of the company.
This amount would dwarf that of the previous record-holder, Infineon Technologies, which generated $US5.23 billion on its 1999 debut, while Google raised $US1.67 billion in its IPO in 2004.
While Facebook has declined to comment on the IPO rumours, it has agreed to tighten its privacy policies and submit to audits in order to settle charges that it abused users’ personal data.
In a deal with the US Federal Trade Commission, Facebook has promised to honour users’ privacy preferences and to stop making false claims about the security of personal information.
The deal settles two-year-old accusations that Facebook has allowed advertisers access to users’ personal data when users were told it was being kept private.
“The proposed settlement requires Facebook to take several steps to make sure it lives up to its promises in the future,” the FTC said in a statement.
That includes giving consumers “clear and prominent notice, and obtaining consumers’ express consent before their information is shared beyond the privacy settings they have established”.
Facebook is barred from “making any further deceptive privacy claims” and will regularly undergo a third-party audit over the next 20 years to ensure it is keeping its promises.
It must also shut down all access to accounts deleted by customers in 30 days or less.
This is an issue that many users have become focused on as employers often try to access potential employees’ Facebook pages to find out more about them.
Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg says the company has already implemented many of the promises it made in the FTC settlement.
“I’m the first to admit that we’ve made a bunch of mistakes,” Zuckerberg said in a statement.
“I also understand that many people are just naturally sceptical of what it means for hundreds of millions of people to share so much personal information online, especially using any one service.”
“We’re making a clear and formal long-term commitment to do the things we’ve always tried to do and planned to keep doing – giving you tools to control who can see your information and then making sure only those people you intend can see it.”