Nowhere in the Bible or Aztec lore is there mention of Facebook among the signs of the apocalypse. Even so, I can't help wondering whether co-founder Mark Zuckerberg is pushing us ever closer to the end of all things here on Earth. Or, at the very least, the end of all rationality on Wall Street.
That's not a crack against Zuckerberg so much as it is his investors. According to Bloomberg, shares of Facebook are trading hands on private-equity exchange SharesPost at a price that values the company at $82.9 billion.
That's up from $56 billion in December, a 48% gain in a month. Facebook is worth more than Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN ) , and at today's growth rates, it's on pace to overtake Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) within three months. Both companies are either current or potential Facebook competitors.
Absurd? That's too kind a word for what's going on here. Too much demand and far too little supply have conspired to send Facebook's shares to the moon.
Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS ) is partly to blame for the frenzy. Bankers there recently helped the social-networking superstar raise $1 billion in fresh overseas capital. Domestic investors were locked out of the round in order to avoid dealings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which is already on the verge of requiring Facebook to file regular financial reports as if it were a public company.
Facebook's not alone, either. LinkedIn recently filed for an IPO and is seeing its shares traded for an implied valuation of more than $3 billion on SharesPost. That's quite the premium for a company that produced a scant $1.9 million in profits during the first nine months of 2010.
Enthusiasm for Facebook and social networking has yet to taint other deals or industries. Cloud-computing issues such as Akamai are still selling off in the wake of worse-than-expected earnings reports from F5 Networks.
But for Facebook, this frenzy ends only with someone getting hurt. Either private-equity speculators or IPO chasers will be disappointed, broke, or perhaps both. For them, it won't be the apocalypse -- just the financial equivalent.
Now it's your turn to weigh in. Should tech investors care about the speculative frenzy surrounding Facebook? Please vote in the poll below, and then leave a comment to explain your thinking.
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