Facebook CEO says IPO a few years out

NEW YORK Tue May 19, 2009 6:13pm EDT

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, delivers a keynote address at the company's annual conference in San Francisco, California July 23, 2008. REUTERS/Kimberly White

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, delivers a keynote address at the company's annual conference in San Francisco, California July 23, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Kimberly White

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg hopes to eventually take his company public but said it won't be for a few years, and stressed that the world's largest online social network is in no immediate need of capital.

The 25-year-old co-founder of Facebook said he is always open to partnerships and investments, but stressed that Facebook can achieve its business goals with its current financial base -- despite numerous media reports that it has had talks on a new round of funding with various investors.

"If there's an investment to be done on very good terms, we will consider it if for no other reason than to have more buffer if we want to do something in the future," Zuckerberg told the Reuters Global Technology Summit.

"Some of the rumblings that people are reporting on, are just different conversations that have happened, but there's really nothing new to talk about there," he added in a telephone interview from Palo Alto, California.

The TechCrunch blog said earlier on Tuesday that Facebook had turned down a $200 million funding offer, which valued the company at $8 billion. Earlier this week, VentureBeat reported that Facebook was in discussions for $150 million in funding.

Zuckerberg declined to confirm these reports.

Facebook has more than 200 million active users, double the number it had last August. The company also ranks as one of the top photo-sharing websites, with more than 15 billion pictures uploaded onto its service.

In 2007, Microsoft Corp invested $240 million in Facebook in exchange for a 1.6 percent stake in the company, giving the social network a $15 billion valuation.

Zuckerberg said on Tuesday that Facebook was not rushing to go public.

"I know for a lot of companies the IPO is the endpoint or the goal," Zuckerberg said. "For us it will be an event on the path to where want to get eventually."

Asked when the time would be right to float shares to the public, he said the 5-year-old company was still "a few years out from that."

Zuckerberg said advertising remains the core revenue source for the company, with Facebook on track to increase sales 70 percent this year and be cash flow positive next year. He declined to specify how much revenue Facebook expects to generate this year.

Facebook works with more than 70 percent of the top 100 largest advertisers in the United States, Zuckerberg said, and the company was also seeing fast growth in international markets, where it has begun to create a direct sales staff.

And with Facebook increasingly taking steps to make aspects of the service available on other websites, like its recent Facebook Connect feature, Zuckerberg said the company could eventually develop a type of online advertising network.

"You can see over time us wanting to offer more ways for people to monetize their site and help out with that, and it could be a pretty natural extension for us to do something with ads or a number of other things that we've considered," he said.

For now though, he said Facebook was focused on the basic user-focused features of extending the service across the Web.

(For summit blog: blogs.reuters.com/summits/)

(Reporting by Alexei Oreskovic, editing by Tiffany Wu)

For Reuters MediaFile blog see blogs.reuters.com/mediafile/

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