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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Facebook harvests N228.3bn from investors

Leading social network medium, Facebook has raised $1.5bn (N228.3bn) from investors, valuing the world’s most popular social networking site at about $50bn, writes CHARLES OKOH with agency report.

About $1bn of the total came from overseas clients of Goldman Sachs, the Wall Street investment bank handling the share sale.

The remaining $500m came from Goldman itself, and Russia’s Digital Sky Technologies.

Facebook said it could have raised more money from the oversubscribed offer.

Facebook’s chief financial officer, David Ebersman said its business continues to perform well and they are pleased to be able to bolster its cash position with this new financing.

“With this investment completed, we now have greater financial flexibility to explore whatever opportunities lie ahead,” he said.

The company said that it had “no immediate plans” for the proceeds from the fundraising, but would “continue investing to build and expand its operations”.

It added that it would begin filing public financial reports on April 30, 2012.

The New York Times reported the Goldman and Digital Sky Technologies investment earlier this month.

At $50bn, Facebook would be worth more than eBay and Time Warner.

Meanwhile, Mark Hevnenwas reported as saying that Facebook wants a better mobile experience for more people on its platform.

“We want people to have a great mobile experience no matter what type of phone they carry. Smartphones have offered better features for sharing with friends but aren’t used by most people around the world,” he said.

Last weekend, he said, Facebook launched a new mobile application to bring Facebook to the most popular mobile phones around the world.

“The Facebook for Feature Phones application works on more than 2,500 devices from Nokia, Sony Ericsson, LG and other manufacturers, and it was built in close cooperation with Snaptu,” he said.

The application he explained provides a better Facebook experience for most popular features, including an easier-to-navigate home screen, contact synchronization, and fast scrolling of photos and friend updates.

“We also wanted to make it available to as many people as possible. Similar to Facebook.com site we’ve worked with mobile operators from around the world to let you try this without paying for any data charges,” he said.

According to him the project is a 14-mobile operators led offering which has free data access when using the new Facebook mobile application during the first 90 days after they launch.

During the next few months, Facebook, he said, plans to make the application available through more carriers in other countries so end-users who could have a great mobile Facebook experience no matter what device they may use.

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