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What the Facebook IPO reveals to us

Nancy Marshall-Genzer Feb 2, 2012

Jeremy Hobson: Right after Wall Street wrapped up trading yesterday, Facebook did just what analysts have been anticipating for years and filed papers to sell stock to the public. As part of that required government filing, the social networking giant had to expose a lot about itself.

Marketplace’s Nancy Marshall-Genzer has been going through the details and she joins us now, live from Washington. Good morning, Nancy.

Nancy Marshall-Genzer: Good morning, Jeremy.

Hobson: So tell us some Facebook secrets that we learned in the last 24 hours.

Marshall-Genzer: Well here’s a juicy one: Facebook made a billion dollar profit last year. Also, Facebook is looking over its shoulder. It says it’s worried about competition. Google, for one, has ads that are more targeted, because it knows exactly what we’re searching for. Also, Google generates a lot more profit per user than Facebook does. And that’s something investors look at to gauge a company’s value.

So, Facebook has to figure out how to get more money out of us. It already says it’s going to keep more of our information, so maybe there’s more of that type of thing coming. But Facebook will save some money on founder Mark Zuckerberg’s salary. Starting next year, he’s only going to be paid $1 a year.

Hobson: So taking a little bit of a paycut maybe.

Marshall-Genzer: Yeah, just a little.

Hobson: Well, OK, so Facebook gets some money out of this — when they go public, they bring in more cash. What are the downsides for Facebook?

Marshall-Genzer: The company is going to have disclose a lot more about itself and how it operates. It’ll have to release financial reports every few months — it didn’t have to do that before. Zuckerberg has made it very clear, though, that he is still going to run the company and Investors won’t have much of a say.

Now, some analysts say Facebook should be worried about more government regulation. Josh Bernoff is a senior vice president Forrester Research.

Josh Bernoff: Regulators, from the EU in Brussels and Washington, could basically handicap the company by putting in rules about how they have to treat customer data. This would be a huge challenge.

And it’s an ongoing one. Some Facebook users want more security for their data.

Hobson: Marketplace’s Nancy Marshall-Genzer in Washington, thanks Nancy.

Marshall-Genzer:You’re welcome.

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