May 3, 2012, 4:05 PM

Facebook’s IPO valuation far outpaces Google’s

The social network sets its own value at $77 to $96 billion.

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Facebook Inc. today announced it plans to price its shares for its initial public offering between $28 and $35. That price range would value the company at between $77 billion to $96 billion, which far outpaces the $23 billion valuation Google Inc. received when it went public in 2004.

The social network announced the valuation in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange commission.

The filing notes that Facebook plans to sell up to 337.4 million shares, roughly half of which are being sold by founders, employees and investors. With Facebook selling 180 million shares, the company can raise as much as $6.3 billion in working capital via the IPO.

Advertising accounts for the vast majority of Facebook’s revenue. In 2009, 2010, and 2011, ads on the social network accounted for 98%, 95%, and 85%, respectively, of revenue. However, investors may be cautious as the social network recently reported its first quarter earnings decreased 12% year over year, to $205 million from $233 million. While that was due in part to the social network’s quarterly expenses rising to $677 million from $343 million a year earlier, it could give some investors pause, particularly after another high-profile Internet company , Groupon, has seen its value plummet because it failed to generate profits after its November IPO.

Marketers advertise on Facebook because consumers share a wealth of data on the social network, which, in turn, advertisers can use to target consumers with ads. The amount of data Facebook has is rapidly growing, as Facebook’s 901 million members add 3.2 billion Likes or comments a day, an average of 3.6 interactions per user per day. 

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