Facebook is close to landing on Wall Street. According to the prospectus submitted to the Sec, the most powerful social network on the planet (845 million monthly active users as of 31 December 2011) will offer the market shares for $ 5 billion. The Facebook Ipo (Initital public offering) should be set between late May and June.
Some details have already spoken. Now let’s focus on risk factors related to an investment in A shares of Facebook (what will be listed), listed in the prospectus.
Here is a list of the 38 risks of Facebook Ipo that could damage your business:
1) If we fail to retain existing users or add new users, or if our users decrease their level of engagement with Facebook, our revenue, financial results, and business may be significantly harmed
2) We generate a substantial majority of our revenue from advertising. The loss of advertisers, or reduction in spending by advertisers with Facebook, could seriously harm our business
3) Growth in use of Facebook through our mobile products, where we do not currently display ads, as a substitute for use on personal computers may negatively affect our revenue and financial results
4) Facebook user growth and engagement on mobile devices depend upon effective operation with mobile operating systems, networks, and standards that we do not control
5) We may not be successful in our efforts to grow and further monetize the Facebook Platform
6) Our business is highly competitive. Competition presents an ongoing threat to the success of our business
7) Action by governments to restrict access to Facebook in their countries could substantially harm our business and financial results
8) Our efforts to expand the Facebook Platform may result in users increasingly engaging with our Platform developers’ Facebook-integrated websites instead of engaging on Facebook, which may negatively affect our advertising revenue and harm our business
9) Our new products and changes to existing products could fail to attract or retain users or generate revenue
10) Our culture emphasizes rapid innovation and prioritizes user engagement over short-term financial results
11) If we are not able to maintain and enhance our brand, or if events occur that damage our reputation and brand, our ability to expand our base of users, developers, and advertisers may be impaired, and our business and financial results may be harmed
12) Improper access to or disclosure of our users’ information could harm our reputation and adversely affect our business
13) Unfavorable media coverage could negatively affect our business
14) Our financial results will fluctuate from quarter to quarter, which makes them difficult to predict
15) We currently generate significant revenue as a result of our relationship with Zynga, and, if we are unable to successfully maintain this relationship, our financial results could be harmed
16) We expect our rates of growth will decline in the future
17) Our business is subject to complex and evolving U.S. and foreign laws and regulations regarding privacy, data protection, and other matters. Many of these laws and regulations are subject to change and uncertain interpretation, and could result in claims, changes to our business practices, increased cost of operations, or declines in user growth or engagement, or otherwise harm our business
18) We have been subject to regulatory investigations and settlements and we expect to continue to be subject to such proceedings in the future, which could cause us to incur substantial costs or require us to change our business practices in a manner materially adverse to our business
19) If we are unable to protect our intellectual property, the value of our brand and other intangible assets may be diminished, and our business may be adversely affected
20) We are currently, and expect to be in the future, party to patent lawsuits and other intellectual property rights claims that are expensive and time consuming, and, if resolved adversely, could have a significant impact on our business, financial condition, or results of operations
21) We are involved in numerous class action lawsuits and other litigation matters that are expensive and time consuming, and, if resolved adversely, could harm our business, financial condition, or results of operations
22) Our CEO has control over key decision making as a result of his control of a majority of our voting stock
23) We anticipate that we will expend substantial funds in connection with the tax liabilities that arise upon the initial settlement of RSUs following our initial public offering and the manner in which we fund that expenditure may have an adverse effect
24) We cannot be certain that additional financing will be available on reasonable terms when required, or at all
25) Our costs may grow more quickly than our revenue, harming our business and profitability
26) Our business is dependent on our ability to maintain and scale our technical infrastructure, and any significant disruption in our service could damage our reputation, result in a potential loss of users and engagement, and adversely affect our financial results
27) We recently began to own and build key portions of our technical infrastructure, and, because of our limited experience in this area, we could experience unforeseen difficulties
28) Our software is highly technical, and if it contains undetected errors, our business could be adversely affected
29) We cannot assure you that we will effectively manage our growth
30) The loss of one or more of our key personnel, or our failure to attract and retain other highly qualified personnel in the future, could harm our business
31) We may incur liability as a result of information retrieved from or transmitted over the Internet or posted to Facebook and claims related to our products
32) Computer malware, viruses, hacking and phishing attacks, and spamming could harm our business and results of operations
33) Payment transactions on the Facebook Platform may subject us to additional regulatory requirements and other risks that could be costly and difficult to comply with or that could harm our business
34) We plan to continue expanding our operations abroad where we have limited operating experience and may be subject to increased business and economic risks that could affect our financial results
35) We plan to continue to make acquisitions, which could require significant management attention, disrupt our business, result in dilution to our stockholders, and adversely affect our financial results
36) If we default on our leasing and credit obligations, our operations may be interrupted and our business and financial results could be adversely affected
37) We may have exposure to greater than anticipated tax liabilities
38) The enactment of legislation implementing changes in the U.S. taxation of international business activities or the adoption of other tax reform policies could materially affect our financial position and results of operations
At this point, some comment.
Beyond the general risks associated with any business activity, Facebook presents unique risks related to privacy, the lack of variety of turnover and fragmentation of the right to vote (the founder and CEO Zuckerberg has more than 50% of the voting rights, as well as a good part of the turnover comes from a few operators, including the producer of online games Zynga). And then there’s the factor G.
These two major categories of risk (low privacy and lack fragmentation of the turnover and the right to vote) is added, in fact, another class of risk: mobile sector. The revenues generated by Facebook on mobile applications that “are less significant”. While it is a very strong dependence from other professionals working in the field. Google in particular. Mountain View company is building on mobile business its future strategy. A business – that Facebook knows well – priced profiled databases of users like gold. Because, better profiled are, advertising deals through their platforms have more chance to go to target.
It is no coincidence then if, in addition to the Android operating system the most powerful engine of the web is trying to enhance their database with mobile users (asking mobile phone to gmail users). In this way, Google, after knowing our tastes, can also find out where we are. And then to raise the quality and price of its ads. Facebook, with its current weakness in the mobile industry, can not stay out.