After years of Facebook executives and investors saying "not yet" to an initial public offering, 2010 finally looked like the year when it could happen.
Nope. Or at least that's what two major Facebook investors, Jim Breyer of Accel Partners and Yuri Milner of Digital Sky Technologies, said during an onstage talk at the Digital Life Design conference in Munich on Tuesday.
A live-blog of rough notes from the talk reveals that both Breyer and Milner ruled out the possibility that Facebook will go public anytime soon. "I am happy to announce that there will be no near term IPO on Facebook; this mean(s) 2010," the notes quoted Breyer as saying. "For them, it is all about getting the product and team right." Milner was a little less concrete, saying "we have permanent capital, we don't have to return money to investors, so we have unlimited patience."
Facebook changed its stock structure in November to a more IPO-friendly model, and its prior search for a new chief financial officer specifically targeted "someone with public company experience." Back in 2007, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that an IPO would be "years out."
But Breyer and Milner know what they're talking about. Accel Partners first invested in Facebook in 2005, when the company was still known as thefacebook.com. Russia-based Digital Sky Technologies was a splashier, more recent entry, first investing $200 million in the social network last May and then increasing its stake late in the year--around the same time that it also invested in social games manufacturer Zynga, one of the biggest companies to build a business almost from scratch on Facebook's developer platform.