Thursday, February 2, 2012
|Facebook to go public, raise $5B|
|February 02, 2012, 05:00 AM By Barbar Ortutay and Michael Liedtke The Associated Press|
NEW YORK — Facebook made a much-anticipated status update Wednesday: The Internet social network is going public eight years after its computer-hacking CEO Mark Zuckerberg started the service at Harvard University.
That means anyone with the right amount of cash will be able to own part of a Silicon Valley icon that quickly transformed from dorm-room startup to cultural touchstone.
If its initial public offering of stock makes enough friends on Wall Street, Facebook will probably make its stock-market debut in three or four months as one of the world’s most valuable companies. Facebook, which is now based in Menlo Park, Calif., hopes to list its stock under the ticker symbol, “FB,” on the New York Stock Exchange or Nasdaq Stock Market.
In its regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Facebook Inc. indicated it hopes to raise $5 billion in its IPO. That would be the most for an Internet IPO since Google Inc. and its early backers raised $1.9 billion in 2004. The final amount will likely change as Facebook’s bankers gauge the investor demand.
Joining corporate America’s elite would give Facebook newfound financial clout as it tries to make its service even more pervasive and expand its audience of 845 million users. It also could help Facebook fend off an intensifying challenge from Google, which is looking to solidify its status as the Internet’s most powerful company with a rival social network called Plus.
The intrigue surrounding Facebook’s IPO has increased in recent months, not only because the company has become a common conduit —for everyone from doting grandmas to sassy teenagers— to share information about their lives.
Zuckerberg, 27, has emerged as the latest in a lineage of Silicon Valley prodigies who are alternately hailed for pushing the world in new directions and reviled for overstepping their bounds. In Zuckerberg’s case, a lawsuit alleging that he stole the idea for Facebook from some Harvard classmates became the grist for a book and a movie that was nominated for an Academy Award last year.
Following the model of Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Zuckerberg set up two classes of stock that will ensure he retains control as the sometimes conflicting demands of Wall Street exert new pressures on the company. He will have the final say on how nearly 57 percent of Facebook’s stock votes, according to the filing.
Even before the IPO was filed, Zuckerberg was shaping up as his generation’s Bill Gates — a geek who parlayed his love of computers into fame and fortune. Forbes magazine estimated Zuckerberg’s wealth at $17.5 billion in its most recent survey of the richest people in the U.S. A more precise measurement of Zuckerberg’s fortune will be available once the IPO is priced and provides a concrete benchmark for determining the value of his nearly 534 million Facebook shares
The IPO will also mint hundreds of Facebook employee as millionaires because they have accumulated stock at lower prices than what the shares are liked to be valued at on the open market. Facebook employed 3,200 people at the end of last year.
Depending on how long regulators take to review Facebook’s IPO documents, the company could be making its stock market debut around the time that Zuckerberg celebrates his next birthday in May.
The IPO filing casts a spotlight on some of Facebook’s inner workings for the first time. Among other things, the documents reveal the amount of Facebook’s revenue, its major shareholders, its growth opportunities and its concerns about its biggest competitive threats.
The documents show, as expected, that Facebook is thriving. The company earned $668 million on revenue of $3.7 billion last year, according to the filing. Both figures nearly doubled from 2010.
“The company is a lot more profitable than we thought,” said Kathleen Smith, principal of IPO investment advisory firm Renaissance Capital.
Although she considered Facebook’s numbers “very impressive,” she said Facebook needs to talk more about where it sees its growth coming from.
“What new areas of business is it expecting to pursue beyond display ads?”
What’s not in the documents, yet, is Facebook’s market value. That figure could hit $100 billion, based on Facebook’s rapid growth and the appraisals that steered investors who bought stakes while the company was still private.
Facebook heads a class of Internet startups that have been going public during the past year.
The early crop has included Internet radio service Pandora Media Inc., professional networking service LinkedIn Corp. and daily deals company Groupon Inc. Most of those Internet IPOs haven’t lived up to their lofty expectations. The list of disappointments includes Zynga Inc., which has built a profitable business by creating a variety of games to play on Facebook. Zynga’s stock fell 5 percent below its IPO price on the first day of trading.
Facebook stands apart, though. As it rapidly expands, people from Silicon Valley to Brazil to India use it to keep up with news from friends and long-lost acquaintances, play mindless games tending virtual cities and farms and share big news or minute details about their days. Politicians, celebrities and businesses use Facebook to connect with fans and the general public.
It’s becoming more difficult to tell whether going to Facebook is a pastime or an addiction. In the U.S., Facebook visitors spend an average of seven hours per month on the website each month, more than doubling from an average of three hours per month in 2008, according to the research firm comScore Inc.
More than half of Facebook users log on to the site on any given day. Using software developed by outside parties — call it the Facebook economy — they share television shows they are watching, songs they are playing and photos of what they are wearing or eating. Facebook says 250 million photos alone are posted on its site each day.
To make money, Facebook sells the promise of highly targeted advertisements based on the information its users share, including interests, hobbies, private thoughts and relationships. Though most of its revenue comes from ads, Facebook also takes a cut from the money that apps make through its site. For every dollar that “FarmVille” maker Zynga gets for the virtual cows and crops it sells, for example, Facebook gets 30 cents.
For all of Facebook’s success, the company has had its share of troubles. It went through a series of privacy missteps over the years as it pushed users to disclose more and more information about themselves. Most recently, the company settled with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission over allegations that it exposed details about people’s private lives without getting legally required consent. And the legal fights over Facebook’s origins have been embarrassing and sometimes distracting, though Zuckerberg has consistently denied allegations that have depicted him as a ruthless weasel.
Zuckerberg has made it clear he isn’t especially keen on leading a public company. He has said many times that he prefers to focus on developing Facebook’s products and growing the site’s user base, rather than trying to hit quarterly earnings targets in an effort to keep investors happy.
In a letter included in in Wednesday’s filing, Zuckerberg paints a rosy, idealistic picture of Facebook.
“Facebook aspires to build the services that give people the power to share and help them once again transform many of our core institutions and industries,” he wrote.
Zuckerberg also pledged to stay true to Facebook’s scrappy roots even on the road to becoming a multinational corporation.
“The word “hacker” has an unfairly negative connotation from being portrayed in the media as people who break into computers,” he wrote. “In reality, hacking just means building something quickly or testing the boundaries of what can be done.”
Lately, Zuckerberg has matured into the role, said Scott Kessler, a Standard & Poor’s equity analyst who follows Internet stocks.
“Clearly he is a very smart and shrewd person,” he said.
Zuckerberg has surrounded himself with other savvy executives, who are often more experienced. They include Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, who helped build Google’s advertising business before Facebook lured her in 2008. Facebook’s finance chief is David Ebersman, a former executive at biotech firm Genentech.
Amid the buoyant optimism about Facebook’s prospects as a public company, some analysts see troubling parallels to the dot-com boom of the late 1990s, which turned into a devastating bust in the early 2000s. The biggest fear is that some investors will become so enamored with Facebook’s brand and brawn that the will try to buy the IPO share with little financial analysis or recognition of the risks.
“It’s a one-day circus,” said John Fitzgibbon, founder of IPOscoop.com.
The IPOs of Zynga and LinkedIn showed that success isn’t guaranteed even for profitable companies with huge followings. Zynga’s stock is currently trading just slightly above its IPO price. LinkedIn is considerably higher, but still far below the $122.70 record that it hit on its first trading day.
Liedtke reported from San Francisco.
Monday, January 30, 2012
Rutgers Ph.D. student who teaches course on celebrity says artist provides perspective on race, gender, sexuality
By Amber E. Hopkins-Jenkins
The course explores such topics as the extent of Beyoncé’s control over her own aesthetic and whether her often half-naked body is empowered or stereotypical.
Beyoncé is known as a performer, fashion designer, Jay-Z’s missus, and arguably the most famous new mom in the world. But should she also be considered a social change agent?
Kevin Allred, a doctoral student and lecturer in Rutgers’ Department of Women’s and Gender Studies, where he teaches “Politicizing Beyoncé,” thinks so – though, he says, the artist may not be “political” in the traditional sense of the word.
“This isn’t a course about Beyoncé’s political engagement or how many times she performed during President Obama’s inauguration weekend,” he says. Rather, the performer’s music and career are used as lenses to explore American race, gender, and sexual politics. Allred pairs Beyoncé’s music videos and lyrics with readings from the Black feminist canon, including the writings of bell hooks, Alice Walker, and even abolitionist Sojourner Truth.
“Politicizing Beyoncé” emerged from Allred’s four semesters teaching Women’s Studies 101 at Rutgers, during which he and his students, both male and female, often discussed the thin line Beyoncé walks as a sex kitten-cum-girl power role model.
“She certainly pushes boundaries,” Allred says. “While other artists are simply releasing music, she’s creating a grand narrative around her life, her career, and her persona.”
Course topics include the extent of Beyoncé’s control over her own aesthetic, whether her often half-naked body is empowered or stereotypical, and her more racy performances as her alter ego, “Sasha Fierce.” In-class discussions often lead to other vocalists, including Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Lady Gaga, and contemporary musicians who embrace the soul singing tradition like Adele and the late Amy Winehouse.
More academics are beginning to explore race, gender, and sexual politics through popular culture and bring such discourse into their classrooms. Georgetown University professor Michael Eric Dyson offers a similar course, “The Sociology of Hip-Hop: The Theodicy of Jay-Z,” on Beyoncé’s rapper husband.
Allred welcomes conversation about the course, particularly from those who question the relevance of intellectual study of pop stars. “It’s important to shift students away from simply being consumers of media toward thinking more critically about what they’re engaging on a regular basis,” he says. “When students don’t respond to theory or dense readings, it’s often easier to see things play out in the world around them.”
Kevin Allred is a doctoral student and lecturer in Rutgers' Department of Women and Gender Studies.A folk singer/songwriter and owner of an independent record label, Gutter Folk Records, Allred was initially drawn to Beyoncé’s work after listening to her second solo album, B’Day. He notes a raw quality in the technical production of the album, over which Beyoncé is said to have had total creative control.
“It wasn’t as polished as her first and subsequent albums,” Allred says of B’Day. “You can even hear her breathing on the tracks, which is normally edited out. I wondered, ‘Why would you record a vocal to stand out in that way?’”
Allred’s desire to merge his passion for music traditions with his interest in the politics of race, gender, and sexuality in the United States emerged during his undergraduate and graduate studies. He holds two degrees in American Studies – a bachelor’s from Utah State University and a master’s from the University of Massachusetts Boston.
As a doctoral candidate at Rutgers, he is currently writing his dissertation on the ways black female performers manipulate their vocal qualities, including tone, timbre, and pitch.
Growing up a white gay male in a relatively homogenous community in Utah, Allred spent a lot of time in the library. There, he discovered black feminist texts, including the works of Audre Lorde, Octavia Butler, and Toni Morrison.
“Their work resonated with me in ways that other content hadn’t,” Allred says of the black feminist scholars. “I found myself identifying with their writing because racism, sexism, homophobia, and privilege are larger systems under which we all operate.”
Allred only assigns his students writings by black women for “Politicizing Beyoncé” as black feminism is an academic discipline replete with identity politics.
“Of course, there are people who’ll say, ‘You’re not black. You’re not a woman,’” he says of his research and teaching interest. “It’s something I’m always questioning and staying aware of so as not to overstep any bounds or make any claims for a group that I don’t belong to. It’s a fine line and I want to remain respectful of that.”
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
2012 is here! A new year for new resolutions, promises, proposals, ideas and solutions. Nobody is taking advantage of this more than the Presidential candidates trying to lead this great country, and as many would assume the free world as a whole. What a monumental responsibility this is to take on. With our incumbent pretty much just trying to prove that he isn't one of "them", those against him are trying to prove they aren't "Him", and should be elected over Mr. Obama because what ever reason they come up with. Since 2008 we've been to the bottom of Recession and now emerging from it, Blacks have lost the national minority to Hispanics, millions more have become reliant on government assistance, fuel prices fluctuate daily, large job sectors have been eliminated or shipped to countries where the educated work cheap,The Tea Party emerged stronger then thought, and OWS has made the nation realize....something. What is up for debate, but they surely got your attention etc., etc.......
All in all, throughout all of this the US government has done 1 thing effectively. Made our nation dumber and dumber year by year. I mean hell, why not? In an age of instant information, scientific discovery, medical advances, and completely NEW knowledge about many things that we had NO CLUE about, the government has effectively made sure that our youth and many adults are as 'sheep-like' as possible. I guess it's getting harder and harder to keep up the same old stuff, if people can vividly see what's going on, if their minds were tuned to paying attention to it.
Our education system is failing our youth. Sure parents need to be more involved, but schools and school districts need to take responsibility for how they educate our youth. Much has relied on S.O.L. training, so much that kids don't learn outside of what the S.O.Ls test for. Long gone are the days of idealistic teachers who know how to reach the most hard headed of students. Long gone are the teachers who sat in class and read books to children, hopefully opening the gateway to imagination and discovery. In many school districts, books have been replaced with lap top computers. Hell, even when we used to cheat from the answers in the back of the book, you had to read it, and if you wanted to pass the test at the end of the week you would try to remember the answer, if you didn't figure it out by then. Now...you can google math equations and get answers, and copy book reports from online, that were written by somebody else, who actually read the book. Interestingly enough...Nobody cares. And what has replaced this interest in self preservation and well being? Reality TV of course. Why concern ourselves with fixing our own problems, when we can just watch so called celebrities act as if every little issue is news worthy and deserves public attention.
Not 1 politician is speaking about education. Wait, I take that back. Ron Paul is, and he wants to eliminate the Dept. of Education and leave it up to the states. Maybe a good idea in merit, but I see some of the poorer states quickly falling back into the 18th century should that happen. Liberal states would run out of people that could actually fix something (because apparently learning a trade isn't a liberal concept) and rich conservative states would only benefit in times of prosperity. Most surprisingly Nothing from Mr. Obama.
Mr. Obama, should he use his power correctly, is a spitting image of the American Dream. He rose to his power through education. Nothing more, nothing less. During the time he was growing up the USA was #1 in the world with Math, medicine and science. We were sending people into space, creating wonders from nearly nothing, and most of the nations in the world owed US money. I know from my own experience that i was educated better in the 80's then i see my daughter being educated now. Thankfully, her teacher is older, old school, and goes outside of the curriculum. A friend of mine who's daughter has a young, new age teacher said his daughter learned more in Pre-School, last year then she has learned at all this year, and the class still hasn't caught up. I guess that's the difference between a S.O.L. teacher and a real teacher. I had real teachers, when S.O.Ls were being experimented with. A few years after my graduation they were the norm, and I notice the education change with my niece and nephew. I've also noticed that the cost of a college education has DOUBLED if not more, since my final year at college in 2005. Sure you can place no value on the worth of an education, but how much do we need to pay just to get it?
Well to make this long story short...why are none of our leaders concerned with education? There is no discussion on how to bring us back to the top as the most educated in the world. Only talk about capitalism. Wealth and War, and how each person would handle it. I guess you don't have to be smart to make money. I'm sure many of us has a boss or a friend that we cannot figure out for the life of us HOW they got to where they are in the world, but they are there. To quote Buckshot from BlackMoon "I'm about to take it back, back to when the wack use to play the gopher, carrying equipment, but nowadays, the wack are getting over."
Some where America took pride in being stupid. Somewhere the struggles before us were forgotten and are being taken advantage of. Some how it became national news that Homeland security was legally giving guns to Drug Cartels, and the FBI and CIA were helping cartel members transfer funds and contraband through wire reports, and somehow, none of them have been prosecuted, or arrested (sure us blacks knew this already, but they finally admitted to it, and NOBODY CARED!). All because the US has found a new place to hide information. In writing. Because if half the country barely knows how to comprehend what they are reading, or are having a hard time concentrating between 50 year old spoiled brats squabbling about nothing and loose women on TV trying to make people think they live glamorously in their pitiful, disgusting, groupie lives...while many of the rest don't speak English in the 1st place, well it's the perfect storm for the rich to get richer and the poor to be slaves sooner then you think.
Education is the key to freedom, the key to prosperity. Give us the key, Set us free, and watch the nation change for the better, once again, right before your eyes.