Facebook kicks off IPO roadshow in NYC

Company pitches its stock with roadshow video

REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

Facebook on Monday launched its IPO roadshow in New York City with CEO Mark Zuckerberg turning out to pitch the company's upcoming stock to potential investors.

Zuckerberg, sporting jeans and a sweatshirt, arrived at a Sheraton hotel in midtown Manhattan around 1 p.m. Monday to meet with hundreds of potential investors, according to a report from MSNBC.com. Facebook CFO David Ebersman, wearing a more traditional suit and tie, also was on hand for the company's first road show appearance.

The report also said that a long line of investors stood outside the Sheraton for about an hour, waiting to get in and hear the social network's pitch about the strength of its business and vision.

The nine-day roadshow is said to include stops in New York, Boston, San Francisco, Chicago, Baltimore and possibly Los Angeles.

Despite a lawsuit from Yahoo, two recent hefty deals -- for Instagram and to buy former AOL patents from Microsoft -- as well as disappointing first-quarter profits, interest in Facebook's IPO remains strong. Susquehanna Financial Group analyst Herman Leung said in a note to investors Monday that he expects Facebook's revenue to grow 40% this year and 33% in 2013, MSNBC reported.

Most reports agree that Facebook's initial public offering will launch May 18. Facebook has not announced a date.

Investors, entrepreneurs and techies around the world will be keeping an eye on the IPO, which is expected to act as a bellwether for the business validity of other social networks.

In a glossy roadshow video that Facebook released last week, Zuckerberg, wearing his usual gray t-shirt and talking directly into the camera, said he knew the social networking concept would take hold. He said he wasn't sure that Facebook would be the one to make it happen.

"We design our products to be social from the ground up," Zuckerberg said in the video. "We think people's lives will be better, and the whole world will function better, when there is more information out there. In the world there exists this map or graph of all the relationships around the world... Now there are real people on the end of the connection. Before Facebook there was no way to do that."

The 31-minute video shows snippets of videos posted on Facebook and images of users' Timelines, photos and posts.

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, participating in the video, focused on the business aspect of the social network.

"People on Facebook want to stay connected with businesses just like they do with people," she said. "Messages on Facebook spread not just from business to consumer but from friend to friend."

Facebook has more than 900 million active monthly users, and the Facebook app is the top downloaded app on every mobile platform in the U.S., the company says in the video.

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

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Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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