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Facebook pulls trigger to go public in $5billion IPO

The long-anticipated move will make it the biggest internet company to trade on the markets since Google.

Image: TPG/AP/Press Association Images

FACEBOOK MADE A much-anticipated status update Wednesday: The internet social network is going public in a move it hopes will raise a massive $5billion revenue.

That means anyone with the right amount of cash will be able to own part of a Silicon Valley icon that quickly transformed from dorm-room startup to cultural touchstone.

The move comes after months of growing speculation, and just eight years after its computer-hacking CEO Mark Zuckerberg started the service at Harvard University.

If its initial public offering of stock makes enough friends on Wall Street, Facebook will probably make its stock-market debut in three or four months as one of the world’s most valuable companies.

In its regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Facebook Inc indicated it hopes to raise $5 billion in its IPO. That would be the most for an Internet IPO since Google Inc and its early backers raised $1.9 billion in 2004. The final amount will likely change as Facebook’s bankers gauge the investor demand.

Joining corporate America’s elite would give Facebook newfound financial clout as it tries to make its service even more pervasive and expand its audience. It also could help Facebook fend off an intensifying challenge from Google, which is looking to solidify its status as the Internet’s most powerful company with a rival social network called Plus.

Even before the IPO was filed, Zuckerberg was shaping up as his generation’s Bill Gates — a geek who parlayed his love of computers into fame and fortune. Forbes magazine estimated Zuckerberg’s wealth at $17.5 billion in its most recent survey of the richest people in the U.S.

Depending on how long regulators take to review Facebook’s IPO documents, the company could be making its stock market debut around the time that Zuckerberg celebrates his next birthday in May.

Meanwhile, speculation is already mounting around what the firm will pick for its market “ticker”.

As the social network prepares to go public and raise billions, it must also pick a brief code — the handful of letters that will be as closely identified with Facebook on Wall Street as the blue strip is on your computer screen.

FACE is already taken by a cosmetics company, though BOOK is up for grabs.

More: Facebook set to file $5 billion IPO today>

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Associated Press

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