Potential Facebook IPO keeps investors speculating

Will it, won't it? If so, when? If not, why not? An entire cottage industry of speculation has built up around the public debut of Facebook, arguably Silicon Valley's hottest Internet company. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's founder and chief executive, has remained mum on the social network's IPO plans, except to tell CBS's 60 Minutes in January that a 2008 IPO is "highly unlikely."

That hasn't stopped bloggers and investors from interpreting Facebook's every move as preparation for an eventual public offering.

That Facebook has been steadily expanding its ranks -- it now employs 550 people, according to the company -- and recently hired a string of Google executives, including Sheryl Sandberg, Google's former sales chief who is the new Facebook chief operating officer, has only fed the speculation.

A Facebook spokeswoman declined to comment.

Venture capitalists say the excitement around Facebook is warranted given the explosive growth in membership. The social network has more than tripled the number of active members to 70 million from about 20 million in April 2007.

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