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Posted at 5:01 PM ET, 01/ 3/2011

Facebook status update: We're worth $50 billion!

By Rob Pegoraro

Apparently, becoming the most widely-visited site on the Internet, knocking Google off that perch in the process, is worth a few bucks.

The news that Goldman Sachs and a Russian investment firm called Digital Sky Technologies had combined to put $500 million into Facebook--giving the still-private social-networking firm a valuation of $50 billion--gave people an excuse to break out their spreadsheets, both to compare the Palo Alto, Calif., firm with other companies and to speculate about how its initial public offering might go.

(The New York Times first reported the deal over the weekend, crediting Goldman with $450 million of the overall investment; a subsequent report by the Financial Times cited a larger share by DST. I can't confirm either breakdown, but I am told that the overall numbers are correct.)

At $50 billion, Facebook would be worth less than the following firms:

* Exxon Mobil, the highest-valued corporation in America according to the stock market: $376 billion

* Apple, which passed Microsoft to become the highest-valued tech company in the U.S. last year: $302 billion

* Microsoft (which spent $240 million in 2007 for a 1.6 percent stake of Facebook that, at the $50 billion valuation, would now be worth $800 million): $239 billion

* Google (which also tried to buy a stake in Facebook in 2007 but got beaten by Microsoft): $193 billion

* Goldman Sachs itself: $94 billion

* Cable-TV provider Comcast, apparently soon to acquire NBC Universal: $61 billion

But at $50 billion Facebook would outrank these corporations, among others:

* News Corp., which owns the MySpace social network that was once the Facebook of its day: $40 billion

* Bethesda-based defense contractor Lockheed Martin: $25 billion

* Seattle-based caffeine purveyor Starbucks: $25 billion

* The Washington Post Co.: $4 billion (Post Co. chairman Donald E. Graham sits on Facebook's board of directors.)

* AOL, which lost all hope of being the Internet's most popular site years ago: $3 billion

* The Washington Redskins, which Forbes estimated had a net worth of $1.6 billion in 2010, making it the second-most-valuable team in the NFL behind the Dallas Cowboys. (Well, in a financial sense.)

Then again, that nice round $50 billion number for Facebook could turn out to be wrong.

"It's really hard to tell if this is a fair valuation at this point," e-mailed Thanasis Delistathis, managing partner at Reston-based New Atlantic Ventures. "It's certainly aggressive. But it could be a great option as part of a large portfolio."

Or Facebook could elect to stay private. Nobody is in a position to force the company to sell stock to the public--certainly not this year. And by 2012? We could be looking at a much larger estimate.

By Rob Pegoraro  | January 3, 2011; 5:01 PM ET
Categories:  Social media, The business we have chosen  
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Next: Is 2011 the year of the tablet, 3DTV?

Comments

Here is why I don't like Facebook. I don't know this guy. I am not an active participant on Facebook. I don't even check the site or respond to others, yet I get stuff like this. I am not looking for any relationship. How can we get creeps like john_brown1955@yahoo.com
to stop this stuff. See below.


John BrownJanuary 4, 2011 at 4:29pm
Subject: Hey
I scroll through your profile and find you interesting. I will like to use this opportunity to tell you some more about me. My name is John Brown .I am 55yrs old,I am a widower, I live in Lafayette Louisiana, I'm Self Employed Construction Engineer. I lost my wife 4yrs ago. I have a Son, He is all i have for now.. He is now 8yrs old, His name is Little john, he is loving and intelligent like me.....I have a kind heart and I have a lot of love in my heart to give it to my beloved woman.I a man optimist and do hope that one day I will see a smile that will fill my life with sunny rays of happy family life. I will do my best to create warm tender atmosphere and special coziness where one can feel comfortable. My ambition is to inspire my beloved woman constantly, to help her to keep the balance between career and private life, just as she will help me and inspire me to do good. But Its always for me Love is first. I need a friend for sharing life, who wants to create a strong family. I want to take long walks with her and share our life's journeys with all joys and sorrows. - I d like to look up to her as an authority for me, to be proud of her, to adore her and give her my femininity,devotion, understanding,kindness, care, calmness, cheerfulness,soul support and my great love. I'm normal Man who dreams about human happiness There are so many interesting things around worthy to be seen and amazed together with a special person like you. I will be waiting to read back from you, I am intelligent, honest and good hearted man, non-smoker and non-drunken, good sense of humor.I will really like to talk to you, the distance,though miles may lie between us, we're never far apart, for sincere love doesn't count the miles, it's measured by the heart,if distance were measured in terms of the heart we'd never be more than a minute apart but hey, like I said, distance means so little when you love someone so much.I will prefer to have your email so as to continue this conversation further through email Kindly send me a short note to my personal email john_brown1955@yahoo.com or forward me your email address so I can send you a message of more about me and send in more picture as well. I will be awaiting to read from you,,,

Posted by: janetwall | January 3, 2011 8:13 PM | Report abuse

goes to show you the folks on wall street don't know what the F- they are doing... "gold-man sacks" included... bunch of goombas gambling with everyone else's money...

facebook -- doesn't generate any revenue for anyone... it's all advertising that nobody can prove generates a dime's worth of revenue... bunch of kids use and adults use the tool for communicating mostly non-important stuff back and forth... and businesses looking for a cheap source of advertising to reach consumers... when folks get on facebook buying stuff is the last thing on their mind... it's a mind-numbing experience from what i can see...

goldman way to go... you just blew $1B of other people's investments down the toilet on the biggest non-profitable enterprise of the current century...

Posted by: FranknErnest | January 3, 2011 8:47 PM | Report abuse

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