Is it Right Time for Facebook to float an IPO?


Facebook, with a base of over 650 million active users, continues to be the top-notch social networking site. The term ‘active user’ in context of Facebook implies a user who has logged in to the site in the last 30 days. More than 250 million active users currently access Facebook through their mobile devices with a level of activity twice that of non-mobile users. Other social networking sites such as Twitter, LinkedIn etc. lag much behind Facebook in terms of the user base and its engagement. Twitter, for instance, has just over 200 million registered users and Linkedin just over 100 million registered users.

Let’s now take a peep into some amazing facts about Facebook (Source: Facebook):

  • About 50% of the active users of Facebook log on to the site in any given day
  • An average user on Facebook has 130 friends and is connected to 80 community pages, groups & events
  • An average user creates 90 pieces of content including links, news / updates, photo albums, notes etc. every month
  • Facebook users spend over 700 billion minutes per month on it

I happened to compile information on some of the parameters for Facebook as well as its nearest rivals viz. LinkedIn and Twitter. Here is what I could gather as a comparative analysis:

Launch Year 2004 2003 2006
Minimum Age for Registration 13 years 18 years None
Number of Users 650 million+ 100 million+ 200 million+
Employee Strength 2000+ 1000+ 550+
Available in Languages Over 75 languages including Hindi, Punjabi & many other regional langauges English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Spanish and Turkish
Office in India Hyderabad Mumbai None
Alexa Rank 2 16 9

If we were to go by the Facebook monitoring site Inside Facebook, Facebook has lost users in the some of the regions including in the key countries like US and UK. Facebook has been quick to deny this. However, it has been widely acknowledged in many reports that the rate of growth of Facebook user base is not as good as it used to be in the year 2010. This brings us to the question if it is the right time for Facebook to go public & get listed by floating an IPO?

Last month, LinkedIn became the first major social networking company to go public and its shares began trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “LNKD”. Its huge success can be gauged from the fact that LinkedIn shares more than doubled in value on the very first day of the trading itself. It has paved the way for other social networking companies to follow the suit.

Presently, Facebook terms of registration restrict a person from using Facebook if he/she is under 13 in line with age limit dictated by the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act which was made Federal Law in America in 1998. However, Facebook founder & CEO Mark Zuckerberg wants the social networking site to let children under the age of 13 use it and he is willing to fight to get the law changed. Probably, this is an extra mile Facebook might be willing to go when the growth is becoming sluggish. Going by these events, the day should not be far when we would also see Facebook going public.

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