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BLOCK: Many investors expect Facebook to file papers this week for an initial public offering. The company, founded in a Harvard dorm room less than a decade ago, is expected to be valued at 80 to $100 billion.
From Silicon Valley, NPR's Steve Henn reports.
STEVE HENN, BYLINE: If the early reports are true, this is shaping up to be the biggest Internet IPO ever.
KATHLEEN SMITH: It'll be larger than the Google IPO, larger than the Amazon IPO, and the largest Internet IPO in history.
HENN: Kathleen Smith tracks initial public offerings at Renaissance Capital.
SMITH: It's rumored that they will seek to raise 10 billion in their IPO.
HENN: And Smith expects the deal could value Facebook at something close to $100 billion. It could create something like a thousand new Facebook millionaires and give Marc Zuckerberg, Facebook's 27-year-old CEO, a net worth north of $20 billion, at least on paper.
So this leads to the question: Is Facebook really worth this? Or is this another Internet bubble in the making?
SAM HAMADEH: This is very expensive company, let's face it.
HENN: Sam Hamadeh follows the tech industry and Wall Street at PrivCo.
HAMADEH: So, at $100 billion, you're talking about one of the largest companies in the United States, or the most valuable companies in the United States. The upside is reasonably limited.
HENN: Hamadeh says Facebook would have to grow like a weed for years to justify its stock price, and other analysts agree. They say investors who by shares are betting that it will more than quadruple in size. The reason investors and Wall Street are optimistic is that the company actually has been growing like a weed for years.
Debra Aho Williamson is an analyst at eMarketer. She estimates last year Facebook's revenue more than doubled. They year before that, it tripled. But she thinks this year that 100 percent growth rate will fall by half.
DEBORAH AHO WILLIAMSON: But that doesn't necessarily mean that, you know, Facebook is a failure or that Facebook has done something wrong. I mean, you know, 50 percent revenue growth in advertising is still huge and enormous, and something that most media properties would salivate over. Right?
HENN: And Williamson believes there will be myriad ways for Facebook to make money down the road.
WILLIAMSON: The real reason why investors are valuing Facebook so highly is because of the promise. They think that Facebook may be the future of how we use the Internet.
HENN: Investors seem eager to bet billions that Facebook's grand future actually comes to pass.
Steve Henn, NPR News, Silicon Valley.