Facebook IPO sparks dreams of riches, adventure

Fri Dec 9, 2011 7:50am EST
 
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By Alexei Oreskovic and Sarah McBride

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Traveling to space or embarking on an expedition to excavate lost Mayan ruins are normally the stuff of adventure novels.

But for employees of Facebook, these and other lavish dreams are moving closer to reality as the world's No. 1 online social network prepares for a blockbuster initial public offering that could create at least a thousand millionaires.

The most anticipated stock market debut of 2012 is expected to value Facebook at as much as $100 billion, which would top just about any of Silicon Valley's most celebrated coming-out parties, from Netscape to Google Inc.

While weak financial markets could postpone or downsize any IPO, even the most conservative market-watchers say Facebook seems destined to set a new benchmark in a region famous for minting fortunes, with even the rank-and-file employees reaping millions of dollars.

Facebook employees past and present are already hatching plans on how to spend their anticipated new wealth, even as securities regulations typically prevent employee stock options from being cashed in until after a six-month lock-up period.

"There's been discussions of sort of bucket list ideas that people are putting together of things they always wanted to do and now we'll be able to do it," said one former employee who had joined Facebook in 2005, shortly after it was founded.

He is looking into booking a trip to space that would cost $200,000 or more with Virgin Galactic or one of the other companies working on future space tourism. That's chump change when he expects his shares in Facebook to be worth some $50 million.

"If that IPO bell happens, then I will definitely put money down," said the person, who declined to be identified because he did not want to draw attention to his financial status, given the antiglitz ethos of many people in Silicon Valley. "It's been a childhood dream," he said of space travel.   Continued...