Share Rules Could Push Offering By Facebook (NYT / DealBook)

Facebook likes big numbers — it now has more than 500 million users, each one of whom can have as many as 5,000 friends. Yet as a privately held company, its ownership base must remain small, or it will have to disclose publicly its financial results. A surging shadow market in the privately held shares of Facebook is making such restraint difficult and could spur the company to go public — even as its executives try to tamp down speculation about an initial public offering — much as similar pressure helped push Microsoft and Google toward their own initial public offerings.

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