Facebook IPO coming (well, maybe, and not for a couple of years)

Board member says public offering probable, based on social networking giant meeting targets


Wall Street finally may get a chance to "friend" a public offering from Facebook, but it won't be right away.

PayPal co-founder and venture capitalist Peter Thiel, who sits on the board of directors of the world's largest social networking site, told Reuters on Monday that privately held Facebook may go public sometime after late 2012.

"It probably will IPO at some point. The lesson from Google seems to be that you don't go public until very late," Thiel told Reuters on the sidelines of the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco on Monday.

Thiel stressed, however, that an IPO would be contingent on the evolution of Facebook's business model and its ability to attain unspecified revenue and growth targets.

Founded in 2004 by then-Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg and others -- and that's a contentious story in and of itself -- Facebook reportedly is already profitable and generated nearly $800 million last year, according to sources cited by Reuters. The social media juggernaut has more than 500 million users, both individual and corporate.

Facebook has turned Zuckerberg into a billionaire -- on paper, at least. The company has received funding from Accel Partners, Greylock Partners, Meritech Capital Partners and Microsoft, among others.

Zuckerberg reportedly has rejected offers as high as $10 billion to buy Facebook.

Search giant Google, launched 12 years ago as of Monday, didn't go public until August 2004. Its IPO (at $85 per share) gave Google a market capitalization in excess of $23 billion. Today Google shares trade at $524 and the company is valued at $129.2 billion.

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