I mentioned recently that although Goldman Sachs appears to be trying to come up with a plan to skirt the regulations set forth by the Securities and Exchange Commission, Facebook may be required to publicly disclose financial reports when the number of individual private investors is at least 500. At that point, when Facebook is forced to prepare and distribute these reports to the public, I questioned whether they might as well be public.
I don’t know what happens behind the scenes at Facebook, but there seem to be strong rumors in the media that the company will go public in 2012. At that point, shares of Facebook would be traded on an open market. Currently, the best way to buy shares of Facebook is to be on the list of qualified investors held by Goldman Sachs.
If you believe Facebook is the best investment of the century and you want to be a part of the meteoric rise you expect to come, there are other ways to buy shares. You just have to find access to the secondary market, where employees with company stock can sell their share in the company and take home their cash.
There are online services that will match holders of private company shares who wish to sell with members of the public who wish to buy.
On SharesPost, shareholders post messages with their investment details, including what they have to sell and how much they’d like to sell it for. Potential buyers, those of us interested in getting a piece of a private company, look for notices that match what we are willing to pay. If the right deal isn’t listed, buyers can also post their own offers to see if any sellers are interested. this this self-serve format, the website takes a commission out of the final sales price of each investment.
The website is free to join, so I registered for an account. As of now, potential Facebook buyers outnumber the sellers, but the deals posted do not match up well. The sellers are looking for $30 to $40 a common share, with volumes ranging from 20,000 to 100,000 shares. Buyers are willing to value the company much higher, and are looking to buy 1,000 shares each, for the most part, with a valuation of $1 — someone hoping to get lucky, I guess — through $60. Only purchase offers with a value of $40 a share or higher are currently in the process of an agreement with a seller.
Goldman Sachs believes Facebook with worth $50 billion, and that puts the accurate share price at around $22. No seller is interested in an offer that low, however.
You’ll need an investable net worth of at least $1,000,000 and an annual income of at least $200,000 to participate as a buyer, so this is still not an opportunity for the average investor to own a piece of Facebook.
Updated May 18, 2012 and originally published January 7, 2011.