Does timing of Facebook IPO matter?

Social network's IPO may launch May 17, reports say

Reports circulated Thursday that Facebook's initial public offering could arrive on May 17.

If the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission approves all of Facebook's paperwork, including the social network's recent purchase of Instagram, Facebook is pushing to have its IPO hit on May 17, according to TechCrunch, citing unnamed sources.

Facebook announced in early February that it was filing for what is expected to be one of the biggest IPOs in history.

With an estimated valuation of $100 billion, Facebook is expected to initially seek $5 billion to $10 billion through its IPO.

Many eyes, on and off Wall Street, will be watching Facebook's stock market launch. As the largest, with 850 million members, and most influential social network, Facebook is seen as a bellwether for the business viability of other social networks.

A successful IPO launch for Facebook could generate even more interest and money for other social networking companies, such as Twitter.

Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group, said the timing of the IPO matters less than how people are feeling about the company.

"Picking the exact right time to go public is a lot like picking the right time to have a baby," said Olds. "Companies wring their hands over it, but, in the long term, it doesn't make all that much difference ... So since we're talking a matter of months, you might as well go when you're ready. If the company is solid, it won't make a difference in the long run."

He added that it doesn't matter if the IPO were to launch this month, May or June. The specific timing doesn't factor in as much as some may think.

"Remember, we're talking about a few months' span -- not years," said Olds said. "And a few months typically won't make a significant difference. Financial trends don't change that quickly."

A little more than a week ago, Facebook announced that it was buying Instagram, the maker of a popular mobile photo-sharing app, for $1 billion in cash and stock. The app works on both the iPhone and Android devices.

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

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