The IPO of 2012 is almost here.
Facebook is set to file to for its initial public offering as early as Wednesday, which may fetch a valuation as high as $100 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Assuming the report is accurate, it would mark the end of the frenzied guessing game surrounding Facebook's plans. The when-will-they-go IPO guessing has been a favorite parlor game around Silicon Valley for the last several years and became a favorite topic of fascination last year. In June 2011, CNBC reported that Facebook would have to file by the first quarter of this year because of an arcane section of securities law which requires companies with more than 500 investors to begin releasing quarterly financial statements to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
For Mark Zuckerberg, already one of the richest people in the tech world, the offering will doubtless be a bonanza as part of what is expected to be the largest tech IPO of all time. Infineon Technologies AG is the current record holder for having the largest global technology IPO with a $5.9 billion offer in 2000. An IPO would propell Facebook into the top ranks of the largest public companies in the world, on par with the likes of McDonald's, Amazon.com, Visa and Bank of America.
The WSJ report says that that Morgan Stanley is close to securing the leading underwriting role, with Goldman Sachs also playing a key role.
In December 2010, "60 Minutes" correspondent Lesley Stahl asked Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg if he was ever going to have the IPO.
"You know, maybe," Zuckerberg replied.
"It's like you can't let go," Stahl remarked.
"I don't think it's letting go," he said. "Here's the way that I think about it: a lot of people who I think build startups or companies think that selling the company or going public is this endpoint. Right, it's like you win when you go public. And that's just not how I see it."
Facebook spokesman Larry Wu says the company will not comment on IPO-related speculation.
After filing its initial paperwork, a public offering usually takes three to four months.