JANUARY 10, 2011 (ComputerWorld) By Sharon Gaudin - Goldman Sachs' not-so-secretive document spills beans on site: Facebook reportedly generated $1.2 billion in revenue in the first nine months of 2010, according to a document being distributed by Goldman Sachs.

What are reportedly Facebook's financials began leaking out Friday thanks to a not-very-secretive 101-page document that Goldman Sachs is sending out to potential Facebook investors, according to Reuters.

Goldman Sachs, which earlier this week invested $450 million in Facebook and valued the social networking company at $50 billion, is providing its wealthiest customers with the most detailed information about Facebook's financials to hit the street yet.

Citing an unnamed source who received the document, Reuters is reporting that Facebook earned $355 million in net income in the first nine months of 2010. It also noted that the financial statements being handed out have not been audited and do not specify how Facebook is pulling in its revenue.

Businessweek is reporting that if Facebook can maintain its growth and margins, the company could realistically pull in $1 billion in profit in 2011. Facebook Watch

Facebook declined to comment for this story.

"We're finally seeing some numbers on Facebook's revenue and profitability and the news is mostly good," said Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group. "The company has solid revenues north of a billion and profit margins of anywhere from 25% to 35%. These are great numbers, but not necessarily high enough to support a $50 billion valuation."

To financially get where Goldman Sachs thinks Facebook can go, the company won't be able to just stay the course.

"The only way Facebook at $50 billion looks like a good investment is if you believe that the company is going to continue to grow revenue and profits at a huge clip well into the future," added Olds.

News of Facebook's financials surfaced just one day after reports hit that the social networking company is on the cusp of gaining 500 shareholders, an invisible line enforced by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that will force Facebook to disclose its financials even though it's not a publicly traded company.

Discussion of the site's finances was widespread this week, even turning up in a segment on The Daily Show, where host Jon Stewart lampooned Facebook's desire to keep its information secret. The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c The Anti-Social Network www.thedailyshow.com Click arrow button to play video. (Adobe Flash is required. Some browsers may require two clicks to start the video.)

The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and co-founder of Facebook, is preparing to launch an initial public offering in 2012. That echoes statements made last September by Facebook board member, venture capitalist and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel that Facebook was eyeing an IPO in late 2012.

News about Facebook's IPO prospects follow widespread speculation in recent days that another social networking company, LinkedIn, is working on an IPO of its own and could beat social networking heavyweights like Facebook and Twitter to the IPO gate.

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

Hoax news circulating on Facebook closing after Mar. 15 By Andrew Moran, Palo Alto

A hoax floating around the Internet claims that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is planning to shut down the social networking giant on Mar. 15, 2011.

However, the rumor is false and was published by a tabloid outlet. Relax. The world isn’t coming to an end – not yet anyway. For those of you stressed that Facebook, which maintains a user-base of approximately 500 million people, is ending, please don’t.

The report was just a false hoax, a rumor, a blatant lie. According to Weekly World News (WWN), known for its false reporting such as the famous Batboy escaping from a laboratory, aliens invading Earth sometime this year and that actress Megan Fox is actually a man, claims that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is ending Facebook in a couple of months.

The American publication “reported” that Zuckerberg held a press conference outside of Facebook’s headquarters in Palo Alto where he stated: “Facebook has gotten out of control and the stress of managing this company has ruined my life. I need to put an end to all the madness.”

He went onto allegedly add that following March 15th, Facebook users will no longer be able to access the social networking website: “So if you ever want to see your pictures again, I recommend you take them off the internet. You won’t be able to get them back once Facebook goes out of business.”

Readers posted comments on the WWN article writing that they are deeply concerned with this news: “Ur really gonna ruin my life thanks,” one reader by the name Juliette posted.

“i dont know what to say, because this site as been a great pleasure to me,and i think am going to mis it a lot,” wrote seun.

Others were relieved of the news, including carlos foo, who wrote: “i personally hope that this news is real.. i like to make real friends.. but not some "FB friends" please make it become true.”

Also in the past, even some news organizations have fallen for WWN “news.” Fox News reported last year on a WWN satirical article that claimed the Los Angeles Police Department was planning to purchase 10,000 jetpacks worth $1 billion. Fox later retracted the story.

Zuckerberg has not yet commented on the story that has attracted nearly 7,000 comments and 2,210 votes.

Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/302361#ixzz1AecncHbe

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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