Thursday, May 3, 2012

Facebook valuing itself at up to $96 billion in IPO

Facebook’s phenomenal rise: In seven years, the social networking site has grown from a project hatched in a college dorm to the largest social networking site in the world, well on its way to hitting its goal of having 1 billion users.
May 3 (Bloomberg) -- Facebook Inc., the world’s most popular social-networking site, is valuing itself at as much as $96 billion in its initial public offering, the largest on record for an Internet company.

Facebook and its holders plan to sell about 337.4 million shares at $28 to $35 each, according to a regulatory filing today. At the top end of the range, the Menlo Park, California- based company would raise $11.8 billion, compared with the 2.92 billion euro ($2.8 billion) IPO for German Internet company T- Online International AG in 2000, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Inside Facebook’s Calif. digs: It’s been a little more than a month since the social networking giant finished moving into its new headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif. On the 57-acre campus, employees can be found checking their e-mail while running on treadmills or talking on cellphones in telephone booths. Of course, they’re working, too.

Hot gadgets for spring 2012: Here are some of the top consumer gadgets that have been creating a lot of buzz this season.
That would value the company, led by 27-year-old Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg, at 24 times sales in the 12 months through March 31, compared with 5 times revenue for rival Google Inc., Bloomberg data show. Facebook’s popularity as a tool for staying connected online will spur demand for the stock, even as some investors steer clear of a valuation they deem too high, said Francis Gaskins, president of researcher
“Some people will buy Facebook stock no matter what -- they’ll just buy it,” said Gaskins, who is based in Marina Del Rey, California. “There’s going to be an initial push of enthusiasm and money, but ultimately, in a year or so, it will come down to valuation metrics. It has to.”
Facebook has amassed more than 900 million users and reported a 24-fold increase in sales over the past four years. The company was considering an IPO valuation of as high as $100 billion, people with knowledge of the matter have said. At that amount, Facebook would have a market capitalization about half as high as Google’s -- even though it has one-10th the sales.

Offering’s Origins

Facebook is offering 180 million shares, while existing owners such as Accel Partners and Digital Sky Technologies are offering 157.4 million, according to the filing. Zuckerberg is offering 30.2 million of his 533.8 million of shares. The majority of his net proceeds will be used to pay taxes associated with exercising a stock option.
Facebook will have 2.14 billion Class A and B common shares outstanding following the IPO, equal to a value of $75 billion at the top end of the price range. Including restricted stock units, options and common stock to be issued following the purchase of Instagram Inc., the shares outstanding would total 2.74 billion, implying a market value of $96 billion at the high end.
Facebook filed for the IPO Feb. 1, using a placeholder amount of $5 billion. Zuckerberg, a co-founder, is the company’s top holder, filings show. Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. are leading Facebook’s IPO. The shares will be listed on the Nasdaq Stock Market under the symbol FB.

Google Comparison

The initial share sale would dwarf the 2004 IPO of Google, Facebook’s biggest competitor for online ads and the world’s most valuable Internet company. Google’s offering, the same year Zuckerberg helped found Facebook, raised $1.9 billion and valued the company then at about $23 billion. The company currently has a market value of almost $200 billion.
Facebook follows fellow Internet companies such as Zynga Inc. and Groupon Inc. in going public. Zynga, the maker of Internet games such as “Farmville,” raised $1 billion in its December IPO, while online-coupon provider Groupon raised $805 million, including an overallotment option, in November. Both stocks are trading below their offer prices.
Zuckerberg co-founded Facebook with his college roommates at Harvard University, developing a site that let students socialize over the Web. He later made the service accessible to everyone, intensifying competition with sites such as MySpace and Friendster.

Facebook’s Dominance

Both eventually succumbed to Facebook, which lured users with innovative features like News Feed, which lets people check on friends’ activities in a single place. News Corp., which bought MySpace in 2005, sold the site last year for a fraction of the price it paid. Friendster revamped itself as a social- gaming platform following its 2009 purchase by Malaysia’s MOL Global Ltd.
Facebook’s revenue surged 88 percent last year to $3.71 billion, with online advertising accounting for almost all of it. The company also is sharpening its focus on the mobile market as users spend more time accessing the site through Internet-ready handheld devices such as the iPhone. In the first quarter of 2012, sales climbed 45 percent to $1.06 billion.

iPhone 4 named latest recipient of untethered iOS 5.1 jailbreak, exploit remains MIA

Apple's not gonna like this one, but news of the perpetual cat-and-mouse game between it and the hacking community continues with the announcement of an untethered jailbreak for iOS 5.1, which is now alive and kicking on the iPhone 4. The good news went out in the form of a tweet from pod2g, and while the naughty bit of software isn't yet available for public download, we can only hope that it'll soon be ready for mass consumption. As you'll recall, we last saw hints of an untethered jailbreak forthe latest iPad (also iOS 5.1), which similarly remains elusive to the public. At any rate, we welcome the progress -- now bring on the exploits.

Samsung's New Galaxy S III Phone Offers 4.8-Inch Screen, Siri-Like 'S Voice' Feature

Samsung has certainly become Apple's primary competition in the smartphone race, with the two companies currently taking nearly all of the profits in the mobile phone industry. Consequently, it pays for Apple and its fans to take note of Samsung's advances with its own hardware, and today's launch of its new flagship Galaxy S III smartphone is no exception.

The Android-based Samsung Galaxy S III offers a large 4.8-inch Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 1280x720. The large screen means that Galaxy S III measures nearly 20% taller and wider than the iPhone 4S, but is slightly thinner and actually lighter. The device also includes an 8-megapixel rear camera and a 1.9-megapixel front camera that can be used for face recognition and tracking features.

Samsung Galaxy S III side-by-side with iPhone 4S (Source: Android Central)

Samsung is placing a distinct emphasis on "natural interaction" for the Galaxy S III, touting its facial, voice, and motion recognition capabilities, including a Siri-like "S Voice" feature.
With the innovative ‘Smart stay’ feature, the GALAXY S III recognizes how you are using your phone – reading an e-book or browsing the web for instance – by having the front camera identify your eyes; the phone maintains a bright display for continued viewing pleasure.

The GALAXY S III features ‘S Voice,’ the advanced natural language user interface, to listen and respond to your words. In addition to allowing information search and basic device-user communication, S Voice presents powerful functions in regards to device control and commands. When your phone alarm goes off but you need a little extra rest, just tell the GALAXY S III “snooze.” You can also use S Voice to play your favorite songs, turn the volume up or down, send text messages and emails, organize your schedules, or automatically launch the camera and capture a photo.

In addition to recognizing your face and voice, the GALAXY S III understands your motions to offer maximized usability. If you are messaging someone but decide to call them instead, simply lift your phone to your ear and ‘Direct call’ will dial their number.
Other features include "Pop up play", which allows users to play videos anywhere on their screen while still using other apps, camera improvements including zero-lag shutter and burst shot mode, and NFC capabilities. Samsung has also partnered with Dropbox to offer Galaxy S III users 50 GB of free storage for two years, a deal that will extend to all Samsung phones and tablets later this year and see the Dropbox app come preinstalled on the devices.

In another bid to take on Apple, Samsung is also rolling out a new Music Hub service that integrates both a streaming service and an iTunes Match-like scan-and-match service to provide users with access to their own music from anywhere. As noted by The Verge, Music Hub will cost $9.99 per month for one device or $12.99 per month for up to four devices plus web access.

The Samsung Galaxy S III will launch in Europe on May 29 before extending to the United States in June and other markets around the world going forward.