Facebook's CFO leaves, paving way for IPO‾

Face book's CFO Gideon Yu, is leaving the social networking business. While personality clashes is the ostensible reason for his departure, wording in the company's statement about Yu's leaving have been seized upon.

It reads, 'We are grateful to Gideon for his contributions to Facebook and what we are trying to accomplish. Despite the poor economic climate, we are pleased that our financial performance is strong and are well positioned for the next stage of our growth"&brkbar;We have retained Spencer Stuart to lead our search for a new CFO and will be looking for someone with public company experience.'

The words "public company experience" have given rise to a flurry of speculation that Facebook is about to embark on its initial public offering (IPO). After all, who in their right mind would do it now, in the depths of the worst economic slump since the Second World War or perhaps even since 1929‾

Particularly as CEO Mark Zuckerman admitted to a German newspaper  last year that it probably would have figured out some way to make money out of it in three years' time and as the company's theoretical value has fallen sharply in the last 18 months, despite its claiming to have 175 million members.

Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal, was the first to invest in Facebook ($500,000 in 2004). During possible take-over negotiations with Yahoo during 2006, he claimed Facebook's internal valuation was around $8 billion, based on projected revenues of $1 billion by 2015.

In October 2007 Microsoft said it had bought a 1.6% share of Facebook for $240 million, suggesting Facebook was worth $15 billion.

By August 2008, BusinessWeek estimated its value was somewhere between $3.75 billion and $5 billion.

All of which suggests that Silicon Valley is over-reacting to those three words in the statement about Yu going and perhaps reveals the Valley's utter desperation to see someone outside of Google make money from Web 2.0.