11/29/2011 11:59 AM
BAGHDAD / Aswat al-Iraq: The Iraqi Islamic Party on Tuesday denied reports about an explosion in its headquarters in northwest Baghdad's Amiriya
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|English.news.cn 2011-11-29 11:24:43||FeedbackPrintRSS|
BEIJING, Nov. 29 (Xinhuanet) -- U.S. social networking goliath Facebook is considering a 10-billion U.S. dollar initial public offering in the second quarter next year, according to media report Tuesday.
That will value the company at more than 100 billion dollars, according to people familiar with the matter.
The company has been reluctant to do an IPO but now internal discussions over the timing has warmed up, insiders said.
Facebook Chief Financial Officer David Ebersman has been leading the company's talks with Silicon Valley bankers about an IPO, said people familiar with the matter.
It is targeting a time frame of April to June 2012 for the IPO, according to media reports. Investors have been eagerly awaiting a chance to buy into the fast-growing company.
The company has been hotly anticipated for several years, and viewed as a defining moment for the latest Web investing boom.
Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg has said he views Facebook more as a way to connect people than a business, and he has been adamant about limiting the impact of ads on user experiences. Indeed, his reluctance to flood the social network with ads is widely viewed as one reason why Facebook endured while an earlier rival, MySpace, expired."Mark has an evangelical approach to advertising," said Martin Sorrell, chief executive of WPP Plc, the world's largest advertising agency. "He sees Facebook as a vehicle to open up communication, not to monetize."But with 85 percent of its revenue derived from advertising last year -- when revenue was $3.71 billion, Facebook realized it needed to strike a more cooperative tone with Madison Avenue ahead of its initial public offering and the accompanying intense scrutiny on profit growth.Advertising sources identified Everson, along with David Fischer, vice president of business and marketing partnerships, and Blake Chandlee, vice president of global agency relations, as the triumvirate leading Facebook's charm offensive. triumvirate In ancient Rome, usually a board of three officials who assisted higher magistrates in judicial functions, oversaw festival banquets, or ran the mint. The First Triumvirate (60 BC) of Pompey, Julius Caesar, and Crassus was an informal group of three strong leaders with no sanctioned powers. The Second Triumvirate (43 BC), consisting of Mark Antony, Lepidus, and Octavian (later Augustus) — formally tresviri rei publicae constituendae ("triumvirate for organizing the state") — held absolute dictatorial power."It's been remarkably different over the last 12 months," Michael Hayes, president of digital at advertising firm Initiative, said of Facebook's attitude toward the advertising community."They didn't really have a relationship with us before, but now they are trying to establish a relationship. I've definitely seen an uptick in their interest in working with us," he said.Last September, Facebook set up a committee consisting of executives from brands that advertise on the site, as well as representatives from many top ad agencies, to regularly provide feedback on its advertising products and services.The company also commissioned Hayes' firm, Initiative, to compare the success of Facebook ads against other media, such as television, the first time it asked for such a study.Sorrell said Facebook plans to introduce new advertising products by the end of February. A source familiar with the announcement said it would center on new products around mobile advertising, but did not provide further details.A Facebook representative declined to comment on any new product announcements or to make Everson available for an interview, citing the quiet period ahead of the IPO.ADVERTISING, FRIEND OR ENEMY?Facebook, which boasts 845 million users worldwide, is more dependent on ad sales than CBS Corp, the most ad-dependent traditional media company, which derives two-thirds of its revenue from advertising.Facebook ranks as the top provider of graphical online display ads in the United States, accounting for roughly 28 percent of the total "impressions" of such ads last year, according to industry research firm comScore.But analysts say the price that Facebook charges for the bulk of its ads is lower than those of other forms of online ads, such as the branding campaigns popular on sites such as Yahoo or the search ads offered by Google.Facebook is taking steps to make its ads more valuable to marketers by integrating social networking features with "sponsored stories" or ads that highlight a user's friends who have "liked" a certain product.The big question is whether Facebook can further evolve its advertising offerings, which are tempered by privacy laws and the changing parameters around how social networks can mine user data for targeted marketing."Their ad product opportunities aren't too robust right now, and the effectiveness is spotty at best," Hayes said.Facebook has come under criticism for the way it has used member data in the past, including in 2008 when its Beacon advertising product was assailed for disclosing such things as what purchases people were making on Amazon.com to their friends without permission.Companies have also removed ads from being displayed against offending user or group profiles, not unlike how brands pull commercials on television shows in protest.Facebook listed the evolving nature of privacy and data protection laws as two risk factors that could impinge future growth in a regulatory filing.Still, the key for Facebook, according to David Eastman, president of digital at JWT, which is part of the WPP group, is keeping Wall Street at bay while it figures out how to monetize its role as an identity broker."I'm worried about how the IPO will affect creative," said Eastman. "I'm worried that the demand for growth and making numbers will get in the way of really evolving the platform to figure out how to monetize influence."EVERSON AT BATIf Everson and her team can establish that equilibrium, the opportunities for Facebook are enormous.Internet advertising is expected to grow at an annual average rate of 15.9 percent to $113 billion in 2014, from an estimated $84.2 billion this year, according to Zenith Optimedia. That makes the Internet the second-largest ad market behind TV, which by 2014 will reach $215.7 billion.Facebook currently commands only a sliver of agency ad dollars. In 2011, Sorrell said WPP spent $1.6 billion with Google and just $200 million with Facebook. This year Sorrell, who labeled Google a "frenemy" in 2006, expects to spend $2.3 billion with the search giant and $400 million with Facebook.Sorrell said the disparity is because of the greater difficulty of monetizing social media. Not to mention that the increased competition with Google in recent years has made it a "friendlier frenemy," Sorrell added with a laugh."Facebook is a superb branding medium, but right now it is more about PR than advertising," he said.In June, Google launched its own social network, Google+, to compete with Facebook. The service, which does not currently display any advertising, has won praise for innovative features such as group-video-chat technology and a design that allows users to easily sort friends into different groups.Sorrell said the two services are preparing for a "battle royal" to win the future of social advertising."There's a real battle shaping up and the competition is intense," he said, adding that from the advertising community's perspective more options are better than less.Everson, who left Microsoft after nine months, is on the front lines of that battle for Facebook.A New Jersey native, Everson graduated in 1999 with an MBA from Harvard. She was pegged as a "Woman to Watch" by trade publication Advertising Age last May, where her profile noted that she got married in Disney World and had Wyclef Jean rap a song about her twin daughters."Since she's joined, Facebook has definitely turned up the heat on getting cozy with agencies," said JWT's Eastman. "There are lots more opportunities to get closer and more involved with them."(Reporting By Peter Lauria, additional reporting by Alexei Oreskovic; Editing by Tiffany Wu and Leslie Adler)=========================Analysis: More than just Great Firewall awaits Facebook in ChinaWed, Feb 08 06:54 AM ESTBy Melanie LeeSHANGHAI (Reuters) - When it comes to China, Facebook should consider itself forewarned. Cracking the world's biggest Internet population might seem an obvious ambition for the social networking giant as it trumpets its global growth before a $5 billion initial public offering, but the chances it will succeed look slim.Facebook said last week it was contemplating re-entering China, the world's second-biggest economy, after being blocked nearly three years ago.But its offering would likely face intense competition, political meddling and little commercial success.Few foreign Internet companies have succeeded in China. EBay Inc, Google Inc, Amazon.com Inc, Yahoo Inc and most recently Groupon Inc form the list of notable online players who have failed to gain traction in the fast-growing nation of 1.3 billion people."It's actually a bit late for Facebook," said Hong Kong-based CLSA analyst Elinor Leung, who added that the market was already quite saturated with local players such as Sina Corp, Renren Inc, Kaixinwang001 and Tencent Holdings.Facebook first launched its Chinese interface in 2008 but was blocked by Beijing in mid-2009 following deadly riots in the western province of Xinjiang that authorities say were abetted by the social networking site."It will be very difficult for Facebook to introduce something that will allow them to differentiate themselves," CLSA's Leung said.Almost half of China's 500 million Internet users use social networking sites, government data showed in January.The dominant players among China's social networking sites (SNS) are Renren and Sina Corp, which is attempting to turn its highly popular microblogging service, Weibo, into a full-fledged social network.WILL CHINA "LIKE" FACEBOOK?Domestic sites have flourished into self-contained ecosystems with their own suite of apps, news portals, micro-currencies and e-commerce options, making it hard for Facebook, if it gained entry, to compete, industry players say."China's SNS space is more crowded and competitive than the U.S. with multiple large and established players all investing for long-term growth," said Joe Chen, chief executive of Renren, which would become a direct competitor with Facebook should the U.S. giant enter the market."Facebook will enter a much more competitive market with a significantly different culture, business environment and other characteristics than what it has previously experienced in the global market," Chen added.Analysts agreed."The Chinese have been social for years, and Facebook would be just one more option among many," said Sam Flemming, founder of Shanghai-based social media consultancy, CIC."It certainly would have a certain amount of cache, especially among the more internationalized Chinese and foreigners living in China, but it would need a big push in awareness beyond this small group," Flemming said.Foreigners and Chinese citizens who want to access Facebook and other blocked sites must use special VPN software to get around China's firewall to do so, meaning a very limited number of Chinese currently use it.CHINA RELATIONSHIP: IT'S COMPLICATEDFacebook would face the same factors that have led to the failure of many foreign Internet companies in China: nimble local competition, murky government regulation and bureaucracy, and difficulty in adapting to local tastes.Complying with Beijing's regulations can also carry a cost in Facebook's established Western markets -- companies such as Google and Cisco Systems Inc have faced criticism at home over accusations of cooperating with the Chinese authorities' efforts to control online content.Google, considered the most successful foreign Internet company to make a foray into China, managed to secure only 30 percent of the Chinese search market before pulling out in early 2010, after a serious hacking episode and a reluctance to censor further in China.It still maintains a presence in the country through a site hosted in Hong Kong."The way for Facebook to be in China would be for them to build or buy a local team and allow them to craft a product to suit the local market over the long run. Then they may have a decent chance to compete, not guaranteeing that they will win," said Dominic Penaloza, chief executive of Chinese professional social-networking site, Ushi.cn.Penaloza said many foreign Internet firms had failed in China because they were unwilling to give such autonomy to their local partners.Early last year, Facebook was reportedly in exploratory talks with potential Chinese partners. Analysts said Facebook would have to manage and censor content heavily in order to gain Beijing's blessing for entry.Twitter and YouTube are also blocked in China, while domestic social networks have to heavily censor and weed out content that Beijing deems undesirable.Facebook said in its IPO prospectus that the firm was evaluating entering China, but notes that the market has "substantial legal and regulatory complexities."A walled-off Facebook, or a heavily censored Facebook for China, may not be appealing to users as Facebook's selling point is its sprawling international reach and open nature."Chinese consumers don't ever want to have some second class offering or some dumbed-down offering," said Duncan Clark, chairman of Beijing-based consultancy BDA China.(Editing by Kazunori Takada and Alex Richardson)=======================