Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Facebook IPO Docs Could Get Approval This Week, Followed by Road Show With Zuckerberg (No Guarantee on Tie)

According to sources close to the situation, Facebook is anticipating getting approval from government regulators to officially distribute its S-1 public offering prospectus to investors within days, which would mean its road show could begin as early as next week.

As I reported back in January, the social networking giant is expected to go public in the second or third week of May, a timeline (get it?) which currently appears to be on track.

In addition — although some have speculated that its famous CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg might not take a “hands-on” role in the high-profile process, having missed one pre-IPO meeting with Wall Street analysts and bankers (can you blame him?) — sources said he would be appearing before potential shareholders, and would be present at key meetings to help sell the company to them.

Of course, he will — although there was much speculation that the Silicon Valley superstar would bow out of any of the hubbub around the huge IPO, and that bankers were practically begging him to appear, sources said Zuckerberg is too key to all aspects of its business not to appear.

(No word as yet on whether he will don a tie, as he sometimes does, or if his usual hoodie will be Zuckerberg’s outfit of choice — although his sartorial choices on the road show are sure to get excessive media scrutiny.)

“Facebook is Mark Zuckerberg and Mark Zuckerberg is Facebook,” said one person with knowledge of the situation. “He’ll do his job as CEO, as he always does.”

Indeed, although he is often portrayed as shy and not a fan of the limelight, Zuckerberg has always stepped up — and rather enthusiastically — when a public appearance is needed, whether in times of trouble or touting for the eight-year-old company.

This is a touting-Facebook moment, of course, as it seeks to raise up to $10 billion in a blockbuster offering that could value the company at $75 billion or more. Filed in February, that will make it the biggest Internet IPO ever.

Also expected to play key roles in the road show are CFO David Ebersman and COO Sheryl Sandberg, as well as other top Facebook execs.

Whether they all can rev up the jets and get going on the road show depends on the Securities and Exchange Commission finally declaring Facebook’s preliminary prospectus of its business and finances “effective” or in legal compliance.

Facebook has updated the initial filing several times, with new financials as well as information about its purchase of photo-sharing site Instagram and its ever-nasty patent battle with Yahoo.

But, overall, the SEC process has been rather smooth for the company, and sources said it appears it will continue that way.

After the road show: A sales process in which investors ask their questions of management and then officially begin to place orders for Facebook stock.

Among the areas of likely concern are that Yahoo patent lawsuit and, most importantly, how Zuckerberg and others characterize the slowing of its explosive revenue growth in its most recent filing update.

Last week, Facebook said its revenue was $1.058 billion, up 46 percent for the year, but down 6 percent from the previous quarter. In the first quarter of 2012, its net income was $205 million, which was down from $233 million a year ago. The company attributed the decline to rising costs, including in marketing and in research.

After the road show, Facebook’s bankers will price the offering — which is widely expected to be massively oversubscribed — and then it will go public on the Nasdaq market, under the “FB” ticker.

The rest, as they say, will presumably be history — or, in fact, the future for Facebook in the public eye.

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus