Facebook IPO: CEOs see Silicon Valley upside

There’s plenty of upside to go around for those working with Facebook.

By TheStreet Staff May 18, 2012 11:16AM

By James Rogers

 

Facebook (FB) may be basking in the glow of its mega-IPO, but CEOs and CFOs see plenty of upside elsewhere in Silicon Valley following the biggest ever tech offering.

 

"From a Silicon Valley standpoint, the success of a company like that in the tech space and the social network space plays very well," Frank Calderoni, the Cisco (CSCO) CFO, told TheStreet. "As it pertains to the economy and jobs, that's important."

 

According to its S-1 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Facebook had 3,539 employees at the end of March, up from 2,431 at the end of the same period last year. The Menlo Park, Calif.-based firm has also ramped up spending on infrastructure needed to support its more than 900 million users. Facebook's cost of revenue in the first quarter of 2012 increased $110 million, or 66%, year over year, thanks largely to expanding data center operations.

 

Calderoni told TheStreet that Facebook is a customer of Cisco. "Their success helps both of us," he said. "With their business, they drive a tremendous amount of traffic through networks -- we want to see them be successful, and we will do whatever we can to help them achieve that."

 

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Facebook plays its technology cards close to its chest, although storage specialist Fusion-io (FIO), which sells Solid State Disk (SSD) technology, is a known supplier. Additionally, data center specialist Equinix (EQIX) is said to work with the newly-public company.

 

Bob Hammer, the CEO of storage specialist CommVault (CVLT), says that Facebook's growth is felt right across the U.S. tech sector. "It impacts all of tech," he told TheStreet. "Information that's coming off of Facebook will have relevance to any company."

 

Businesses, he added, are increasingly looking to apply data analytics and business intelligence software to social networking information.

 

Software and services company Syncapse is set to ride the Facebook wave, according to CEO Michael Scissons, who sees the IPO as a positive. "It brings more attention to our market," he said. "We offer software and services that make marketers successful on social media - for example, if a brand has 100 Facebook pages and 20 Twitter pages, they use our software to manage customer relationships."

 

For Ken Xie, the CEO of security specialist Fortinet (FTNT), Facebook's offering marks an important milestone for Silicon Valley.

 

"The IPO validates that the Internet is entering into a new stage of connecting everybody together," he said, but warned that Facebook's growth also brings fresh challenges for the tech giant. "There's a risk of a social engineering attack - Facebook holds a lot of information today, and that can be a target."

 

Facebook's popularity can't be doubted. Web information company Alexa, which rates the world's top 500 sites, ranks the social networker no. 2, behind Google (GOOG), but ahead of Youtube, Yahoo! (YHOO) and Baidu (BIDU).

 

It's hardly surprising, then, that Facebook's offering has garnered so much attention.

 

After months of speculation, the social networking phenomenon finally priced its IPO at $38 a share after market close on Thursday. At $38 a share, the offering will raise more than $16 billion and will give Facebook a valuation of $104 billion.

 

Amidst all the Facebook brouhaha, though, Bob Beauchamp, the CEO of BMC Software (BMC), voiced his concern about valuations for early-stage companies.

 

"I think we're getting close to 1999 again in some of the startup valuations," he told TheStreet. "I'm not speaking specifically to Facebook, but there's definitely a dot.com bubble that's growing - some of the valuations are reminiscent of 1999."

 

Set against this backdrop, Beauchamp explained that BMC has held back from some recent acquisitions. "There's some companies out there that we might be interested in acquiring, but, based on valuations, we're going to sit back and wait for it to pop," he said.

 

Where do you think Facebook shares will close on their first day of trading? Tell us in TheStreet's Facebook IPO poll.

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