According to the DealBook section of the New York Times, investment banking firm Goldman Sachs has offered some of its wealthy private clients the chance to invest in the social networking Web site Facebook. According to the article, several clients of Goldman Sachs received an e-mail offering the opportunity to invest in an unnamed private company, believed to be Facebook, for a minimum investment of $2 million.
There has been a lot of speculation and excitement surrounding an initial public offering (IPO) from the Palo Alto, California based company, but Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, has repeatedly rebuffed questions related to a possible Facebook sale or IPO. It has been reported by the New York Times and others that the company might look to go public in 2012, but all of this is speculation. Even the Goldman Sachs e-mail is speculative as no clear indications were ever made that the unnamed private company in question is indeed Facebook.
If the company you can invest in for a mere $2 million is Facebook, it would apparently be through a so called special purpose vehicle set up to Goldman. Special purpose vehicles are typically used to isolate a company from financial risk by transferring some assets to the special purpose vehicle, which is essentially a new, smaller subsidiary company. However, some accountants and CFOs have used special purpose vehicles to hide debt, the most striking example of this being Enron.
So will the average investor be able to purchase a piece of a Facebook IPO soon? Well, maybe take it from the lips of Mark Zuckerberg when he said, “Don’t hold your breath.”