Facebook has officially filed forms with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) looking to raise $5bn in an initial public offering (IPO) in the most anticipated filing since Google went public in 2004.
The deal had been expected after early reports hinted at the move. The firm officially submitted the documents on Wednesday afternoon and revealed the site has 845 million active users with 161 million in the US.
It also revealed it generated revenue of $3.7bn in 2011, up from $2bn in 2010. Chief executive and founder Mark Zuckerberg drew a salary of $500,000 from the company, and is also the largest share holder with 28.4 per cent of Facebook shares.
In his letter to potential investors, Zuckerberg outlined the firm's vision for the future that would help it remain the leading social networking site.
"We think the world's information infrastructure should resemble the social graph - a network built from the bottom up or peer-to-peer, rather than the monolithic, top-down structure that has existed to date," he said.
"We also believe that giving people control over what they share is a fundamental principle of this rewiring. We hope to improve how people connect to businesses and the economy."
He also warned investors that the firm would not put the creation of wealth above its core goal of making products for its users.
"Most great people care primarily about building and being a part of great things, but they also want to make money," he said.
"Through the process of building a team I've developed a deep appreciation for how building a strong company with a strong economic engine and strong growth can be the best way to align many people to solve important problems. Simply put: we don't build services to make money; we make money to build better services."
On this point, Zuckerberg also told investors the firm would stick to the ethos that had made it so successful to date.
"As most companies grow they slow down too much because they're more afraid of making mistakes than they are of losing opportunities by moving too slowly," he said.
"We have a saying: ‘Move fast and break things'. The idea is that if you never break anything, you're probably not moving fast enough."
The filing means company shares will become available on the stock market in May and could see the value of the company rise to as high as $100bn if investor demand matches expectations.
Dan Worth is the news editor for V3 having first joined the site as a reporter in November 2009. He specialises in a raft of areas including fixed and mobile telecoms, data protection, social media and government IT. Before joining V3 Dan covered communications technology, data handling and resilience in the emergency services sector on the BAPCO Journal.