Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Facebook plans to raise $10.6 bln in mega IPO

Facebook Inc aims to raise about $10.6 billion in Silicon Valley's largest IPO, dwarfing the coming-out parties of tech companies like Google Inc and granting the world's largest social network a market value close to's .
The eight-year-old social network that began as Mark Zuckerberg's Harvard dorm room project indicated an initial public offering price range of between $28 and $35 a share on Thursday, which would value the company at $77 billion to $96 billion.
The size of the IPO reflects the company's growth and bullish expectations about its money-making potential as a hub for everything from advertising to commerce.
"We certainly haven't ever seen a tech IPO on this grandiose a scale," said Lise Buyer, a principal with the IPO advisory firm Class V Group.
Buyer, who worked on Google's 2004 IPO, said the question about a company "that's already this big and that is raising this much money is how many of the glory days of growth are in the past versus how many are ahead."
Facebook stands to raise as much as $12 billion at the upper end of its planned range. If an over-allotment or "greenshoe" option is triggered, the company could sweep up a maximum of $13.6 billion, according to a Thursday prospectus.
Facebook is only getting about half, or $5.6 billion, of the estimated $10.6 billion that it would raise at the midpoint of its planned IPO range. About $4.9 billon will go to some existing shareholders.
Facebook's stock could begin trading as soon as May 18, according to a road showschedule obtained by Reuters. The offering's price range can be adjusted depending on Wall Street's response during the road show.
Investors are expected to flock to the highly anticipated IPO, although there have been growing concerns about the social network's longer-term growth and Zuckerberg's majority control.
Facebook will trade at 13 to 16 times the revenue that GreenCrest Capital analyst Max Wolff believes it will generate this year. By comparison, Google, the world's dominant Internet search engine, currently trades at 5.5 to 6 times expected 2012 revenue, he said.
Google's valuation was higher when it went public in 2004, though Facebook's IPO valuation is still higher than Google's was back then, Wolff noted.
But some observers said the rich premium was unlikely to deter investors.
"People are going to be very comfortable with this valuation," said Sam Schwerin of Millennium Technology Value Partners, which owns Facebook shares worth roughly $200 million. The firm is not selling in the IPO.
"A price range of $28 to $35 will be a relief to some people who are concerned that they may try to take the highest possible price because of high demand," he said.
"The amount being raised is noteworthy. Selling stockholders are raising about $5 billion in the IPO, which is a lot."
Facebook executives are due to hit the road on Monday, presenting their investment case to audiences. They will start in New York, go to other major cities such as Chicago and Boston, and end up on Facebook's home turf in Menlo Park, California, according to the schedule.
Zuckerberg is expected to participate in the two-week road show, a source has said, although Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg and Finance Chief David Ebersman will lead the briefings.
User growth over the years
Bankers fees -- how low? 36s
Top Ten global IPOs
Zuckerberg's involvement in the road show will be key for investors with concerns about Facebook's long-term strategy and money-making potential, said Brian Wieser, an analyst with Pivotal Research Group.
Zuckerberg's control of the company -- which was underscored when he orchestrated the $1 billion acquistion of mobile app maker Instagram last month -- means that investors need to "get comfortable" with the 27-year-old CEO, said Wieser.
Last week, Facebook reported its first quarter-to-quarter revenue slide in at least two years, a sign that the social network's sizzling growth may be cooling just as it prepares to go public. Some observers have also flagged the company's lack of revenue on mobile devices such as smartphones as an area of concern.
Dressed in a gray t-shirt and jeans, the copper-haired Zuckerberg appeared in a 31-minute road show video posted online on Thursday. In the video, Zuckerberg predicted that in five years almost every software app would be integrated with Facebook.
Facebook generated the lion's share of its $3.7 billion in revenue last year from online advertising. It also collects fees when consumers use its special Credits currency to purchase virtual goods in social games such as Zynga's Farmville. The company has said it may expand the use of its payment business beyond games.
Facebook, which plans to list its stock on the Nasdaq under the ticker "FB" , has long tantalized investors with the prospect of a mega IPO.
As a private company, shares of Facebook have traded briskly in secondary markets for the past couple of years, as investors sought to get a piece of the fast-growing company ahead of its expected IPO.
The IPO price range indicated in Facebook's filing on Thursday would value the company a hair below the level it has traded at in the secondary markets in recent months, with some trades valuing the company at slightly more than $100 billion.
But some investors think Facebook, which touts 900 million users worldwide, is setting itself a fairly conservative target.
"The price range may be tactical. They will likely walk the range up," Schwerin argued.
Facebook plans to sell 337.4 million shares, or 12.3 percent of the company, in the offering. The capital-raising target far outstrips big Internet IPOs that came before it. Google raised just shy of $2 billion in 2004, while last year Groupon tapped investors for $700 million and Zynga raked in $1 billion.
At the top end of the IPO range, Facebook would rival the market value of and Cisco Systems Inc , which are worth just over $100 billion, and surpass the combined market value of older technology companies Hewlett-Packard Co and Dell Inc .
Among existing shareholders, the largest seller in the IPO will be venture capital firm Accel Partners, which will make about $1.2 billion assuming the shares sell at the $31.5 mid-point. Zuckerberg is selling the next largest chunk of shares, worth a little under $1 billion.
Facebook said that a "substantial majority" of the proceeds from Zuckerberg's stock sale will be used to satisfy taxes he will incur from exercising his options.
In its prospectus, Facebook said the "lock-up" period, during which employees cannot sell shares after the IPO, would range from 151 days to 181 days.
Facebook also added two new underwriters, including online broker E*Trade Securities. The broker caters to retail clients who some have speculated may try to pile into the IPO.
"No doubt Facebook doesn't want to upset the average mom and pop out there," said Craig Huber, research analyst, at independent research firm Huber Research Partners.
(Writing By Edwin Chan, additional reporting by Poornima Gupta, Gerry Shih and Sarah McBride in San Francisco and Olivia Oran in New York; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick, Bernadette Baum, Matthew Lewis and Richard Pullin)
Source: Reuters via Yahoo Tech News

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Android smartphones 'used for botnet', researchers say

Smartphones running Google's Android software have been hijacked by an illegal botnet, according to a Microsoft researcher.

Botnets are large illegal networks of infected machines - usually desktop or laptop computers - typically used to send out masses of spam email.

Researcher Terry Zink said there was evidence of spam being sent from Yahoo mail servers by Android devices.

Microsoft's own platform, Windows Phone, is a key competitor to Android.

The Google platform has suffered from several high-profile issues with malware affected apps in recent months.

The official store - Google Play - has had issues with fake apps, often pirated free versions of popular paid products like Angry Birds or Fruit Ninja.

This latest discovery has been seen as a change of direction for attackers.

"We've all heard the rumours," Mr Zink wrote in a blog post.

"But this is the first time I have seen it - a spammer has control of a botnet that lives on Android devices.

"These devices login to the user's Yahoo Mail account and send spam."

Bad guys

He said analysis of the IP addresses used to send the email revealed the spam had originated from Android devices being used in Chile, Indonesia, Lebanon, Oman, Philippines, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Ukraine, and Venezuela.

As is typical, the spam email looks to tempt people into buying products like prescription drugs.

Security expert Graham Cluley, from anti-virus firm Sophos, said it was highly likely the attacks originated from Android devices, given all available information, but this could not be proven.

This was the first time smartphones had been exploited in this way, he said.

"We've seen it done experimentally to prove that it's possible by researchers, but not done by the bad guys," he told the BBC.

"We are seeing a lot of activity from cybercriminals on the Android platform.

"The best thing you can do right now is upgrade your operating system, if that's possible.

"And before you install apps onto your device, look at the reviews, because there are many bogus apps out there."

Google told the BBC it did not respond to queries about specific apps but was working to improve security on the Android platform.

"We are committed to providing a secure experience for consumers in Google Play, and in fact our data shows between the first and second halves of 2011, we saw a 40% decrease in the number of potentially malicious downloads from Google Play," a spokesman said.

"Last year we also introduced a new service into Google Play that provides automated scanning for potentially malicious software without disrupting the user experience or requiring developers to go through an application approval process."

Source: BBC Tech news

Monday, July 2, 2012

7 Most Powerful Sales Tools

It's not about the worksheets: These tools are what really create success sales.

The world is inundated with sales tools: worksheets, playbooks, sales scripts, software, brochures, and so forth.
But all of those sales tools put together are insignificant if you don't have the intellectual and emotional tools that truly create success.
Here are seven sales "tools" you need to develop:
1. Patience
If you're patient, you let customers decide at their own speed.  You realize that nobody ever got a plant to grow faster by pulling at the leaves of a seedling. If you lack patience, you'll be frustrated whenever things take longer than you'd like. Customers will sense your frustration and hesitate to buy.
2. Commitment
If you're truly committed to both your customer's success and your own success, you'll do whatever it takes (within legal and ethical bounds) to get the job done. You'll banish all thoughts of ever giving up. If you lack commitment, you'll consistently fail to follow through–and will often drop the ball at the worst possible moment.
3. Enthusiasm
Enthusiasm is contagious: If you're enthusiastic about yourself, your firm and your product, your customers will "pick up" your enthusiasm and believe in your ability to improve their lives.  If you lack enthusiasm, however, you'll always find yourself surrounded by naysayers and endless "objections."
4. Curiosity
Curiosity is essential to growth–and if you're growing as an individual and a professional, you'll spend time each day learning something new to better serve your customers. You'll read books, listen to audio training, take courses, and network with peers. If you're not growing, your ideas will become stale; your career will languish and your ability to compete will slowly drain away.
5. Courage
If you've got courage, you take the necessary risks to expand yourself and your business into new areas–even when you're facing enormous odds. You'll see setbacks as learning opportunities rather than failures.  But if you lack courage, you'll freeze up when things get weird, turning small failures into big ones.
6. Integrity
If you've got integrity, there's no disconnect between your stated purpose and your real motivations. Because there's no hidden agenda, customers sense the honesty and feel comfortable working with you. If you lack integrity, however, customers will have a nagging feeling that something is "not quite right"–and tend to balk rather than buy.
7. Flexibility
Life is all about change; nothing stays the same. If you've got flexibility, you can observe what's working and what's not and change your approach to match changing circumstances. If you lack flexibility, you'll pursue brittle strategies and tactics long after they've ceased to work.
The above is loosely based upon a conversation with Jeff Keller, author of the bestseller Attitude is Everything.


7 Things You're Doing Wrong on LinkedIn

Most professionals use the social networking site in some capacity--but one expert says they're making a lot of mistakes.

Today, LinkedIn is the No. 1 social media platform for professionals. Estimates of professional participation in LinkedIn are as high as 83%.
But when I talked to one of my friends--social media expert Alexandra Gibson from OttoPilot Media--she told me that she sees too many professionals making a lot of mistakes. Here are the seven she sees most often.
1. You only use it if you need a job. I can usually tell when my friends are on the job prowl because all of a sudden, a barely existent LinkedIn profile is revived. The truth is that you'll be much better served by keeping your profile and connections current, rather than just reaching out to people when you need something.
2. You have an incomplete profile. A bare-bones profile does not do you (or your company) any favors. Add all important companies and a description of the results you achieved in the past. Don't forget to optimize your profile for search--creating a keyword rich profile will help people find you and your company.
3. You don't belong to the right groups. There are more groups out there than there are seconds in a day, so it can be difficult to decide which are most important. If you join no other groups, join your alumni groups (college, prep school, grad school, fraternity or sorority). Industry groups--both for your own company and your major customer market segments--are a clear next step.
4. You're not sharing valuable content. When you publish a great blog post or your company creates a valuable white paper, share it on your LinkedIn feed. Also, share content in your feed from other sources besides your own. Post in your groups to judiciously share articles and links if you feel that it would be of interest to that audience. This will help show you as a thought leader--and, if the content is on your site, can generate quality leads directly from LinkedIn.
5. You're not building out your connections. Again, don't wait till you need something: You should be constantly adding and accepting connections from people you know professionally or personally. I do not recommend trying to connect with people that you don't actually know: You want this to be your real professional network, so if someone says, "Hey, I see you know Jim Smith," you can say that you actually worked with him at a project at a previous company and not that you were just padding your connections number.
6. You're not utilizing LinkedIn Answers. The underutilized LinkedIn Answers section is another valuable place to show your expertise and provide value. People ask questions and, if you know anything about the topic, you can answer in a forum. Add links to important content that backs up your answer, especially if it's content from your site that fits with the question. One of the best things about LinkedIn Answers is its staying power--unlike other social media sites (think Twitter), the section gets visited by people with similar questions over time, so it can generate leads even a year later. 
7. You haven't brought your team/staff along. Sure, it might be a bit much to require your CFO to join Facebook--but since LinkedIn is a professional network that focuses on individual, professional connections, it you should emphasize its importance to your entire team. Think of the power you could tap into if, the next time you go to pitch a company, you check LinkedIn and see that Mary Ellen in accounting is already connected to the chief marketing officer.