social networking

Facebook prepares to go public

Facebook will begin the process of becoming a publicly-listed company this week, valuing the social networking site at between $75bn (£48bn) and $100bn, reports suggest.The company plans to file papers with the US financial watchdog on Wednesday, according to the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal.

The flotation later this year would raise about $10bn, they reported. This would be one of the biggest share sales seen on Wall Street. It would dwarf the $1.9bn raised by Google when it went public in 2004. It would still, however, be some way short of the $20bn raised by carmaker General Motors in November 2010.

‘Brilliant achievement’

The reports suggest that Morgan Stanley will be the lead underwriter for the sale, with Goldman Sachs also expected to be heavily involved.Rumours of Facebook’s so-called initial public offering (IPO) have circulated for many months, and the company has maintained it will not comment on the subject.

The reported valuation would make Facebook one of the world’s biggest companyies by market capitalisation. “Facebook a brilliant achievement, but $75-$100bn? Would make Apple look really cheap,” said Rupert Murdoch on Twitter.

The company was started by Mark Zuckerberg and fellow students at Harvard University in 2004 and has quickly grown to become one of the world’s most popular websites. It makes most of its money through advertising.

As a private company, Facebook does not have to publish its accounts, but reports in January last year suggested a document sent by Goldman Sachs to its clients showed the firm made a net profit of $355m on revenues of $1.2bn in the first nine months of 2010.

Source: BBC News

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ACAS releases social networking guide for businesses

ACAS logoThe first guide is launched today to help Britain get to grips with a cyber problem estimated to cost the country billions of pounds every year.

Employment relations expert Acas has drawn it up to help businesses, staff and trade unions agree how to handle the use of the internet, blogs and social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter inside and outside of work.

Logging on to social media has rocketed in the last ten years, with almost six out of ten staff (55%) now using it at work, either on computers or mobile phones. But employers say many staff are also abusing it by looking at their personal web pages instead of working, posting derogatory comments about managers and colleagues, or buying and selling online.

Most employers are unclear how to manage this aspect of the digital revolution. A few, such as BT and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, have issued their own policies, but research has found that fewer than one in ten employers have a social media policy. Acas’s guide is believed to be the first offering advice to all employers.

Most employees, too, are confused over when, where and how they can use social media in and away from work.

Acas’s main recommendation is that an employer should consult with staff and trade unions to spell out the dos and don’ts of using the internet and social media, and should also make clear the consequences of breaching its policy, which should become part of contracts of employment.

It stresses that in working out a policy, employer, staff and unions should agree so employees do not feel gagged, staff and managers feel protected against online bullying, and the firm feels confident its reputation will be guarded.

Acas Chief Executive John Taylor said: “Online conduct should not differ from offline conduct. Employees should assume that everything they say on the internet could be made public, and should think whether they want their colleagues or boss to read it. They might not mean it, but what they post could end up being seen by billions of people worldwide.”

Acas also says it is vital employers, employees and unions keep up to date to review a company’s internet and social media policy because the technology and its use are evolving fast. And the issues have yet to be really tested in law.

Bosses are also advised to carefully assess the potential harm from an employee stepping out of line on social media before deciding how they will react. Mr Taylor said: “If an employer is too tough, it needs to consider the potential impact of any negative publicity.”

And if bosses check on employees’ use of the internet and social media, they must make it clear what they scrutinize and why. Mr Taylor said: “Heavy-handed monitoring can cause bad feeling and be time consuming.

A manager wouldn’t follow an employee down the pub to check on what he or she said to friends about their day at work. Just because they can do something like this online, doesn’t mean they should.”

“Importantly, many companies want their employees to be up to date and comfortable with internet working, as social media sites are increasingly a key part of business and marketing. Firms need to bear this in mind.”

Go to http://www.acas.org.uk/socialnetworking for more details on Acas’s guidance including practical tips for employers.