Facebook is now worth more than eBay in terms of privately held stock, making it the third- largest US internet business, and fueling speculation that the social network could sell shares to the public in the not-to-distant future.
Facebook’s stock is trading at more than $16 on SecondMarket, an exchange for shares of privately held companies, said a person familiar with the latest pricing data.
That would put its worth at about $41 billion, more than EBay’s $39.3 billion valuation on the Nasdaq Stock Market.
Facebook only trails Amazon, worth $74.4 billion, and Google, valued at $192.9 billion, among US Internet companies.
Facebook, the world’s largest social-networking site, previously vaulted past other Internet pioneers, such as Yahoo! and travel site Expedia.
The valuation doesn’t indicate what Facebook will be worth in an initial public offering, which will only become known once it opens its shares to the public.
The value of Facebook on New York-based SecondMarket has more than tripled in the past year, according to the person, who declined to be identified because SecondMarket doesn’t publicly release trading data.
SharesPost , another private exchange, estimated Facebook was worth $40.9 billion last week. That’s up almost 50 percent in the past month, according to the Santa Monica, California-based company.
Valuations of closely held companies are less precise than those of their public counterparts because trading is limited to a smaller pool of investors and fewer shares are available.
Facebook also doesn’t disclose financial information, but it makes money from ads and a credits program, which lets people buy virtual items in online games.
The company has attracted such advertisers as Coca-Cola Co., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Adidas AG. It also has maintained ad prices, even as its user growth creates a surge of space for commercial messages, Facebook said in August.
Facebook’s users have increased by more than two-thirds since September 2009, when it had 300 million members. In March, the company surpassed Google as the most visited Web site in the U.S., according to research firm Hitwise.