Facebook Now $500 Million Richer -- But What Does it Mean?

By: Mallorie Rosenbluth

We all know Facebook is worth big bucks, right? I mean that’s the rumor. And when news came out that Facebook surpassed Google in web traffic in 2010, it seemed the rumor had more than a little weight behind it.

And then late last night, Dealbook broke the story of a huge investment; further proving that surpassing Google and being named Time’s Person of the Year was just small potatoes for CEO Mark Zuckerberg in 2010. 2011 is sure to bring even bigger changes and more monumental impacts for Facebook’s users.

The $500 million investment ($450 million from Goldman Sachs and another $50 million from Russian investment firm Digital Sky Technologies) means Facebook is now valued at $50 billion (up from September’s valuation of $23 billion) and places the social media giant in the same sandbox as names like Yahoo, Time Warner and eBay. Not bad for a six year old.

Additionally, part of the deal states GS will help Facebook raise another 1.5 billion dollars from indirect investments; effectively allowing Facebook to avoid an SEC regulation requiring companies with 499 or more investors to make public their financial results.

Ultimately, an investment this large from a company as notorious and savvy as Goldman Sachs is bound to raise the question: Is Facebook going public?

While Zuckerberg and the rest of the executives over at Facebook have long resisted the idea of taking the company public, it seems it’s the inevitable next step. It happened to Microsoft, it happened to Google.  And while the trend now is for companies to turn down public funding (see: Groupon) one has to wonder just how long a company that houses 500 million users can reject its suitors.

What do you think the Goldman Sachs investment will mean for the future of Facebook? How long will it be before Facebook goes public?