Facebook is one of the most anticipated IPO’s of the past few years and it could end up being the biggest IPO in history. The Wall Street Journal has reported that Facebook is set to announce an IPO date of May 18, 2012. The company will head out on its roadshow on Monday May 7, where the company will meet with banks in hopes of raising anywhere from $5 billion to $10 billion. This would value the social media company at $100 billion.
Facebook has reportedly decided on JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs and a few other banks to be the underwriters on the deal. Morgan Stanley won the right to take the lead. This IPO could make these banks as much as $40 million.
In a recent SEC filing, Facebook has listed 35 risk factors that they feel could adversely affect the company in the future. I like how they have been upfront about all of these potential risks. It at leasts shows that they are aware.
- We could simply lose users, or fail to add new ones.
- We could lose advertisers — and new technology may let users block ads.
- Facebook’s mobile platform doesn’t show ads — so the more that grows, the worse for us.
- The platform for Facebook apps might not be successful.
- The competition from Google, Microsoft and Twitter could heat up — not to mention other social networks around the world.
- More governments could restrict access to Facebook.
- Users could turn their noses up at new products.
- The Facebook culture is all about rapid innovation and getting users engaged — and that could come at the cost of profits.
- Unspecified future events could tarnish our brand.
- Bugs might give people access to users’ information that they’re not supposed to see.
- The media could turn on us.
- Our quarterly financial results could be difficult to predict.
- Zynga accounts for 12% of our revenue. If we part ways, that could seriously hurt us.
- Our revenue grew by 88% last year — and that’s simply not sustainable. Growth is bound to decline.
- The U.S. laws and regulations we’re governed by could change or be reinterpreted.
- If our patents and copyrights aren’t granted — or aren’t effective — it could seriously hurt us.
- We have some patent lawsuits on our hands that could end badly.
- We’re also involved in class-action lawsuits, and we could lose them too.
- Mark Zuckerberg has a massive amount of shares, which concentrates power in the hands of one man.
- There’s a complicated tax liability connected to a particular kind of stock unit we gave out — one that will be taxed at 45%.
- If we need more rounds of investment, the terms might not be reasonable.
- Costs might grow faster than revenue.
- A lot of our servers are handled by third parties, and they might be disrupted.
- We’ve started building a lot of our own data centers to handle traffic, and we’ve got limited experience doing this kind of thing.
- Our software is incredibly complex and may have a lot of bugs.
- We can’t say for sure that we’ll handle our growth effectively — we have more than 3,000 employees now, and that could spin out of control.
- If we lose our leaders, like Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg, that would really harm us.
- People might sue us over all sorts of stuff posted on Facebook — intellectual property, copyright, defamation, and so on.
- Viruses, hacking, phishing and malware. Oh my.
- Payment systems in Facebook apps could mean new government regulations.
- We’re continually expanding abroad, and we may not understand all the risks in new countries.
- We’re planning to acquire lots of other companies, which could disrupt everything at Facebook.
- We might default on our leases or our debt.
- Our tax liabilities, in general, are bigger than we thought.
- U.S. tax code reform, if it happens, might hit us where it hurts.
The big question left to answer is, will there be any shares of the Facebook IPO for you and I, the retail investor. My guess is yes but probably only for high net worth investors. I am not a big tech investor and I am always hesitant on tech IPOs, but I think it will be very interesting to watch and see how this all plays out.
What are your thoughts on the upcoming Facebook IPO? Is this something you would invest in?