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Personal Data’s Value? Facebook Is Set to Find Out

Robert Galbraith/Reuters

An employee(雇员) at Facebook's headquarters(设立总部) in Menlo Park, Calif. The company, founded in 2004, now has some 800 million users. (来源:英语麦当劳-英语杂志 http://www.EnglishCN.com)

 

Facebook, the vast online social network, is poised(泰然自若的) to file for a public stock offering on Wednesday that will ultimately(最后)value the company at $75 billion to $100 billion, cashing in on the fuel that powers the engine of Internet commerce(贸易): personal data.

The company has been busily collecting that data for seven years,compiling(编译) the information that its more than 800 million users freely share about themselves and their desires. Facebook’s value will be determined by whether it canleverage(手段) this commodity(商品)to attract advertisers, and how deftly(熟练地) the company can handle privacy(隐私) concerns(关系) raised by its users and government regulators(调整者) worldwide.

As the biggest offering of a social networking company, the sale is the clearest evidence(证据) yet thatinvestors(投资者) believe there is a lot of money to be made from the social Web. Facebook’s dominance(优势) in this field has left Google, a Web king from an earlier era — less than a decade(十年) ago — racing to catch up.

Facebook is considered so valuable because it is more than the sum of its users. More than the world’s largest social network, it is a fast-churning data machine that captures(捕获)and processes every click and interaction(相互作用) on its platform.

Every time a person shares a link, listens to a song, clicks on one of Facebook’subiquitous(普遍存在的) “like” buttons, or changes a relationship status to “engaged(吸引),” a morsel(一口) of data is added to Facebook’s vast library. It is a siren to advertisers hoping to leverage that information to match their ads with the right audience.

Barring an unforeseen(未预见到的) event, the Internet giant(巨大的) plans to  list apreliminary(初步的) fund-raising goal of $5 billion, according to people briefed on the matter, smaller than some previous estimates(估计) of the offering. But it is essentially aplaceholder(占位符), a starting point used by companies to generate(形成) interest amongpotential(潜在的) investors. The eventual(最后的) offering is expected to be the largest for an Internet company, bigger than Google’s in 2004 or Netscape’s nearly a decade before that. Trading of the stock is expected to begin by late May, the people briefed on the matter said.

 
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