Its been a big story all year and will be the focus on media scrutiny in 2011 - when is $FBOOK going to IPO (ideally on NASDAQ, so that our $FBOOK becomes the actual ticker)? When will the founders, early management, and investors take some of their cash off the table and let the rest of us shlubs in? As it turns out, this is no simple question, particularly given the current state of their business.
After all, it used to be that companies went public to raise capital needed to take them to the next level. This would make sense for companies like $LKIN, $TWIT, or $GRPN who are either seeking out a business model or need cash to continue growth at the pace they're on. Last time I checked, $FBOOK has 500M users, is the largest website by traffic surpassing even Google, and has a robust business model based on advertising, micropayments with enormous upside. They've raised an enormous amount of capital, and most of top management (and a fair # of employees and early investors) have begun to convert shares to cash via our friends at SecondMarket and Sharespost. There is no specific need for new infrastructure or a larger workforce than they can currently handle from the cash they've raised. What exactly is the incentive to let us all in on the party?
When you think about it, there's really no reason why $FBOOK needs to be the next $GOOG of $AAPL and not the next $BBERG or Edelman, namely large private companies - captains of their respective industries, owned by the founders and a handful of investors. These companies benefit from being able to focus on long-term gains without the markets pushing for QoQ growth, and they don't need to worry about pesky Sarbanes-Oxley related issues. On some level, these two companies were able to grow to the top of their respective markets by thinking and acting a lot more like a nimble small business, than their competitors who are publicly traded - I wonder if being private has anything to do with it?
Now, who knows whether $FBOOK will succumb to public demand and go public, but I'm struggling to see why they would? With the exception of the SEC probe and potentially antsy investors, its not so obvious to me.