Facebook Shares Unlocking

An avalanche of privately held Facebook shares could begin hitting the market this week — potentially putting further pressure on the company’s stock — as rules expire that have kept some early investors from cashing out.

Angel investor Peter Thiel and venture-capital firm Accel Partners are among early backers who are sitting on sizable paper gains, even with the company’s stock down 43 percent from its $38 offering price. Mr. Thiel and Accel, for example, bought into the company when it was valued at less than $1 billion. Today, its market capitalization is about $60 billion.

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