Economic Outlook: Facebook's riches

By ANTHONY HALL, United Press International  |  Feb. 2, 2012 at 8:57 AM
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According to some projections, the public debut of Facebook Inc. has the potential to make more than 1,000 people overnight millionaires.

What's a million, anymore? Well, it's a lot. Facebook filed for its initial public offering Wednesday with the expectation of raising $5 billion in the most talked about IPO of the year and potentially of the decade. Most astounding, the creator of Facebook could realize $28 billion in the deal, given he owns 533.8 million shares and the firm is likely to be valued at $75 billion to $100 billion. At $53 per share, Mark Zuckerberg could be remarkably rich after the debut, giving him a pay day, after eight years of work, at $3.5 billion per year.

That gives Zuckerberg the right to say, "What's a million, anymore?" Few people get the chance to say that.

If the urban myths are true Zuckerberg was dedicated to keeping Facebook cool and, in the early years, advertising was not considered cool, so it was ignored for awhile. Zuckerberg said as much this week, noting in a statement, "We don't build services to make money; we make money to build better services."

Whether Zuckerberg believes his own words or not doesn't matter. Zuckerberg has been guided by the old chestnut, "Do what you love and the money will follow." He stayed on task and a lot of people jumped on board -- 500 million users to date -- and a lot of money is following.

It is hard, however, to apply that adage straight down the line at Facebook. Are there any overnight millionaires out of the thousand who simply couldn't find another job and ended up at Facebook? They show up to work reluctantly each day, punch the clock and head home eight hours later. Out of all the days laboring there, one day the company offers employees to get in early on some stocks and the clairvoyant ones agreed to get in early.

Facebook is not genius -- it's just very, very popular. There's a difference, and money doesn't change that.

In international markets Thursday, the Nikkei 225 index in Japan added 0.76 percent while the Shanghai composite index in China gained 1.96 percent. The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong gained 2 percent while the Sensex in India rose 0.76 percent.

The S&P/ASX 200 in Australia climbed 1 percent.

In midday trading in Europe, the FTSE 100 index in Britain slid 0.29 percent while the DAX 30 in Germany was flat, dropping 0.08 percent. The CAC 40 in France was flat, losing less than 0.01 percent, while the Stoxx Europe 600 rose 0.07 percent.

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