Facebook’s Goal: To Be a Blue Chip Company

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Mark Zuckerberg spent Facebook Inc.’s early years trying to keep it cool. But the founder and CEO of the social-networking giant has spent the last 18 months methodically preparing Facebook to look and act more like a blue-chip business.

Bloomberg News: Mark Zuckerberg

“There was a period in Microsoft’s evolution where they said, we want to put a computer on everyone’s desk,” said Mr. Zuckerberg in a recent interview. “That’s the way that I want to run Facebook…We want to be operating in a way that we’re working towards this longer vision of where we think the world should be.”

Facebook plans to file early next year with the Securities and Exchange Commission to take the stock public in the second quarter of 2012, according to a person familiar with the matter. The IPO could raise as much as $10 billion at a valuation of more than $100 billion.

As Facebook’s IPO gets closer, Mark Zuckerberg is trying to position the company as a seasoned business. Photo: Reuters.

The poor IPO debuts this year of Internet companies Groupon Inc. and Zynga Inc. has put new scrutiny on Facebook. Groupon shares are down 12% from their first-day’s close, while Zynga fell below its IPO price within minutes.

As hard as it is to reach a public offering, it is even more difficult for young businesses to play head-to-head against tech stalwarts such as Apple Inc. and Microsoft Corp. But interviews with Mr. Zuckerberg and others inside Facebook reveal the eight-year-old company is trying to emulate the influence, staying power, and meticulousness of the biggest technology companies.

Since last year, Facebook executives have been crafting dummy scripts for quarterly earnings calls, addressing imaginary questions from analysts about the company’s revenue and profit, people familiar with the matter say. They have even written a top-secret draft of an IPO prospectus, a role traditionally left to bankers.

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