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WDAY: The News Leader

Published May 18, 2012, 09:10 AM

The social network goes public

It's Facebook's big day. The site, which was born in a dorm room eight years ago and has grown into a worldwide network of almost a billion people, is making the most talked-about stock market debut in years.

It's Facebook's big day.

The site, which was born in a dorm room eight years ago and has grown into a worldwide network of almost a billion people, is making the most talked-about stock market debut in years.

Here's some of what Associated Press reporters are finding. Check back all day for updates. All times EDT.

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9:52 a.m.

VIEW FROM THE NASDAQ

At Nasdaq's streetfront location in Times Square, Dennis Hitchings, a retiree from Columbus, Ohio, was peering through the window at Nasdaq's board of constantly changing stock prices.

He said that he doesn't think Facebook is worth $100 billion — "They don't have the revenue" — but he did say he would buy the stock at $38.

— Joseph Pisani, AP Business Writer

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9:39 a.m.

TALE OF THE TAPE

How Facebook stands up against one of its Internet rivals, Google, based on the most recent available data:

Annual revenue — Google $38 billion, Facebook $3.7 billion.

Advertising revenue — Google $36.5 billion, Facebook $3.2 billion.

Annual net income — Google $9.7 billion, Facebook $668 million.

Employees — Google 33,100, Facebook 3,500.

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9:33 a.m.

THE OPENING BELL

Wearing his trademark hoodie and standing before a huge crowd in Menlo Park, Calif., CEO Mark Zuckerberg symbolically opened trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market.

Facebook stock won't begin trading until later in the morning. The broader market opened slightly higher, with the Nasdaq composite index up about 10 points, or 0.3 percent.

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9:27 a.m.

SOME PERSPECTIVE ON MARKET VALUE

The IPO price values Facebook at $104 billion. By comparison, here are the top five companies in the Standard & Poor's 500 index by market value, based on Thursday's closing stock prices:

Apple, $496 billion

Exxon Mobil, $383 billion

Microsoft, $250 billion

IBM, $229 billion

Wal-Mart Stores, $210 billion

— Seth Sutel, AP Business Writer

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9:15 a.m.

FLASHBACK: GOOGLE'S DEBUT

The last technology stock to go public with this level of attention was Google, which made its debut Aug. 19, 2004. Here's how The Associated Press covered it:

SAN JOSE, Calif. — In the most highly anticipated Wall Street debut since the heady days of the dot-com boom, shares of Google surged nearly 20 percent on their first day of public trading Thursday as the quirky Internet company completed its much-hyped initial stock offering.

Despite the first-day jump, the debut generated much less money than the company envisioned after it launched an unorthodox auction designed to open the stock beyond large investors who typically get first crack at new stock issues.

Google shares finished the day at $100.34, up 18 percent, and the stock offering raised $1.67 billion. The company originally hoped to open at between $108 and $135, generating as much as $3.6 billion and making the company worth up to $36 billion.

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8:54 a.m.

THE RIPPLE EFFECT: CALIFORNIA CASH

Besides minting Internet billionaires, the Facebook IPO should provide a little help for the cash-starved state of California.

The state's nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office says the IPO will generate $1.6 billion to $2.6 billion for the state through the middle of next year as shareholders cash in their stock.

California badly needs the money: Gov. Jerry Brown said over the weekend that the projected state deficit has swelled to $15.7 billion for the coming fiscal year. In January, it was projected at $9.2 billion.

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8:48 a.m.

POP AND DROP

Several of last year's must-have IPO stocks aren't exactly must-haves anymore.

Pandora, an Internet radio company, went public June 15 at $20 a share. You could have bought the stock during the day for $26. It's now trading under $11.

Groupon, the online daily deal company, priced its stock at $20 a share on Nov. 4. It traded above $31 the first day and is now under $13.

And LinkedIn, a social network for professionals, more than doubled from its $45 offer price within minutes of hitting the market last May 19. It reached $122.70 on the first day before closing at $94.25. It's back to about $105.

— Dave Carpenter, Personal Finance Writer

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8:41 a.m.

THE KID BILLIONAIRE

CEO Mark Zuckerberg is selling about 30 million shares of Facebook as part of the initial public offering. At $38 each, he pockets $1.15 billion. He will remain Facebook's largest shareholder, will more than 32 percent of Facebook's total shares. At the $38 share price, his stake in the company is worth $19.1 billion.

Zuckerberg will control the company with 56 percent of its voting stock as a result of agreements he has with other shareholders who promise to vote his way.

Here's his bio:

AGE: 28. Born May 14, 1984.

RESIDENCE: Palo Alto, Calif. Grew up in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.

EDUCATION: Philips Exeter Academy, class of 2002. Studied computer science at Harvard University before dropping out.

PROFESSIONAL CAREER: Co-founded Facebook in his Harvard dorm room in 2004. Has served as CEO since.

FAMILY: Mother, Karen; father, Edward; sisters Arielle, Donna and Randi Zuckerberg.

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8:30 a.m.

NEXT STOP: 1 BILLION

Have a look at how explosively Facebook has grown. According to the company, this is when the site passed milestones for its number of active users, defined as someone who logs on at least once a month:

1 million — End of 2004.

5.5 million — End of 2005.

12 million — End of 2006.

20 million — April 2007.

50 million — October 2007.

100 million — August 2008.

150 million — January 2009.

175 million — February 2009.

200 million — April 2009.

250 million — July 2009.

300 million — September 2009.

350 million — End of 2009.

400 million — February 2010.

500 million — July 2010.

608 million — End of 2010.

750 million — July 2011.

800 million — September 2011.

845 million — End of 2011.

901 million — March 2012.

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HEDGE FUND VIEW: HE'S IN

Andrew Schneider, a hedge fund adviser and CEO of San Francisco-based Schneider Family Office, was busy selling shares of Apple and LinkedIn on Thursday to free up cash for buying Facebook.

He planned to spend at least $20 million, or 8 percent of his firm's liquid assets.

"You've got 900 million users, and you've got real solid revenue, and the company is earning money," Schneider says.

He's not concerned about plowing such a large proportion into one company: "We feel very strongly and very comfortably about this." Nor is he rattled by General Motors' announcement that it would stop buying display ads on Facebook. He calls that "a very, very small amount."

Schneider points out that there were naysayers when Google went public in 2004, priced at $85 a share. It closed Thursday at $630.

"A lot of people went on the short side of Google when it opened," says Schneider, who is also CEO of Global Hedge Fund Advisors. "And boy, were they wrong."

—Christina Rexrode, AP Business Writer

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HEDGE FUND VIEW: STEERING CLEAR

Whitney Tilson says his hedge fund, T2 Partners, avoids newly public companies as a rule because companies tend to go public only when things are going well.

T2 Partners prefers to look for battered stocks that it can scoop up cheaply. It bought more stock in JCPenney this week. Tilson admits, though, that avoiding initial public offerings doesn't always work. Google, he says, "turned out to be a great deal."

Tilson said he expects Facebook's stock will rise over the long term. Facebook, he says, "does look and smell a lot like Google."

— Christina Rexrode, AP Business Writer

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INSTEAD OF A RED CARPET, RED INK

Facebook isn't getting much of a welcome to the neighborhood.

Thursday was one of the worst days of the year for stocks. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 156 points and has fallen 11 of the past 12 days, mostly because investors are nervous about turmoil in debt-burdened Greece.

The Nasdaq composite, representing the stock exchange where Facebook will trade, fell 2 percent on Thursday. The composite was up almost 20 percent for the year at the end of March, but that gain has withered to 8 percent.

— Erin McClam, Financial Markets Editor

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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