The most anticipated stock market debut of 2012 is expected to value Facebook at as much as $100 billion, which would top just about any of Silicon Valley’s most celebrated coming-out parties, from Netscape to Google Inc.
Market watchers say Facebook seems destined to set a new benchmark in a region famous for minting fortunes, with even the rank-and-file employees reaping millions of dollars.
Facebook employees past and present are already thinking about how to spend their anticipated new wealth, even as securities regulations typically prevent employee stock options from being cashed in until after a six-month lock-up period.
“There’s been discussions of sort of bucket list ideas that people are putting together of things they always wanted to do and now we’ll be able to do it,” said one former employee who had joined Facebook in 2005, shortly after it was founded.
Facebook was founded in a Harvard dorm room in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg and his friends. Facebook has grown into the world’s biggest social network with over 800 million members and revenue of $1.6 billion in the first half of 2011.
Facebook’s earliest employees, who were given ownership stakes, and early venture capital investors, such as Accel Partners, Greylock Partners and Paypal co-founder Peter Thiel, will see the biggest paydays. Zuckerberg, 27, is estimated to own a little over a fifth of the company, according to “The Facebook Effect” author David Kirkpatrick.
The wealth will trickle down to engineers, salespeople and other staffers who later joined the company, since most employees receive salary plus some kind of equity-based compensation, such as restricted stock units or stock options.