Facebook

Rich Galen

5/16/2012 10:23:00 AM - Rich Galen

The investing community is agog at the prospect of the Initial Public Offering (IPO) of Facebook on Friday.

If you're under 103, you probably have a Facebook page. You and about 901 million others.

I have a Facebook page. I started it about four years ago when the younger people in the office teased me about being 103 years old.

I opened my Facebook page and immediately started the "friend" chase. I decided that having more friends than people I knew was a good thing so I started trolling for friends.

I now have the maximum number of friends an individual can have. 5,000. I actually know about 27 of them. The rest, as I have mentioned before are a combination of "Friends" trollers, people who have seen me on TV but wouldn't know me at the Safeway, and Ukrainian hookers.

Although, according to CNBC.com, a final decision won't be made until Thursday evening, analysts expect Facebook shares to cost between $34 and $38 a share which would value its "upcoming offering at as much as $18.5 billion" and the entire company of something in the area of $100 billion.

The CEO of Facebook is a 28-year-old named Mark Zuckerberg. He and some pals started Facebook in their dorm room at Harvard.

By the close of business Friday, some estimates put Zuckerberg's worth in the $21 billion range which on the Forbes' list of the richest people in America would put him between number 8 Sheldon Adelson ($21.5 billion) and number 7 George Soros ($22 billion).

But, Zuckerberg is a little younger than everyone above him on the list, so he has time to climb past perennial number one Bill Gates ($50 billion).

Like all things in life, there may be bumps in Facebook's future. General Motors announced this week that it would no longer spend advertising dollars on those ads that auto-magically appear on the right side of your screen.

According to the Wall Street Journal GM studied the situation and found that the "paid ads on the site have little impact on consumers' car purchases."

To be fair, GM was only spending about $10 million a year on Facebook ads. That sounds like a lot but GM's total advertising budget is about $1.8 billion (among the top three advertisers along with AT&T and Procter & Gamble).

Also, GM's advertising represents less than 3/10s of one percent of Facebook's 2011 revenue of $3.7 billion.

Still, keep in mind that if context-based web advertising begins to falter, you read it here first. Well, first if you don't count the Wall Street Journal.

If you have been practicing pressing the first 9 digits of your stockbroker's phone number so you can get in on Facebook at the IPO price you're probably not going to be dialing for dollars on Friday morning.

Unless your broker's name is Jamie Dimon.

Otherwise, according to MSNBC.com "unless you're a large institutional investor like a pension fund or your stock broker is unusually well plugged into one of [the] 30 underwriters, you can't" participate in the early going.

"Facebook plans to sell 337 million shares - which sounds like a lot. But because it's widely expected to be a hot stock, demand is likely to be much bigger than the first batch of shares."

If shares pop up because they are oversubscribed you will probably be able to buy some shares on Friday or Monday but you will pay more than the big boys.

According to the San Jose Mercury News

"Among other recent social networking IPOs, Yelp shares rose 64 percent in their first day of trading, while Groupon rose [40 percent] and LinkedIn popped up 109 percent."

Groupon's IPO price was about $20 last November and the shares spiked to $28 within minutes of its opening. Last night Groupon shares closed at $12.17.

On the other hand LinkedIn opened at $45 last May and closed last night at $110.56.

What will happen with Facebook?

You pays your money, as the man once said, and you takes your chances.