Update: Facebook may be considering IPO after 2012

It's said to be working on a business plan, revenue goals before launching effort to go public

Reports are circulating on the Internet that Facebook executives are a few years away from taking the company public.

Facebook board member, venture capitalist and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel told Reuters on Monday that the company is looking at making an initial public offering sometime after late 2012. With more than half a billion users and a massive online presence, investors are likely to be extremely interested in getting a bite of Facebook.

Thiel, speaking to a Reuters reporter at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco, added that the decision to go public will depend on the social networking company's hitting specific revenue goals, as well as the long-awaited development of its business plan.

"It probably will IPO at some point," Thiel told Reuters. "The lesson from Google seems to be that you don't go public until very late."

A Facebook spokesman told Computerworld that the company has no plans for an IPO at this time.

Although Facebook has battled privacy issues this year, the company has been on a roll. The social site hit the milestone of accumulating 500 million users this past July. And in the month of August, Facebook edged out industry behemoth Google in the amount of time U.S. users spent on a particular Web site.

Zeus Kerravala, an analyst at the Yankee Group, said Facebook is smart to not jump into an IPO right now.

"Capital markets are still a bit soft so waiting isn't a bad idea," he added. "Waiting means the softness in the economy should be gone so the IPO is likely to have more upside."

Kerravala said Facebook needs to come out with a business plan and holding off on going public will give them time to come up with something solid.

"They need to build a firmer plan, but they do have some time to do so," he noted. "Going public creates Wall Street interest, gets you written about in the business press, raises the profile of the organization and legitimizes the company in many ways."

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

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