Facebook will hit 500 shareholders by next year and will either have to disclose financial data or go public by April 2012.
The 500 shareholders is the benchmark the Securities and Exchange Commission has about publicly disclosing private company information to protect investors, the Wall Street Journal reported. Most private companies hitting that number decide to have an initial public offering, or go IPO, which is what many believe will happen to Facebook. (After being hotly traded in secondary markets, it's understandable that its IPO would be just as enthusiastically awaited.) The SEC rule will be activated at the end of the fiscal year, Dec. 31 and Facebook will have 120 days to rectify it -- meaning it will either disclose its financials or go public by April 2012.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg has previously expressed no desire to go public. His actual words were "I tend to think that being private is better for us right now because of some of the big risks we want to take in developing new products."