Facebook goes public at $42

Facebook went public this morning in New York City, after CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg rang the bell to open trading on his $104-billion US company.

The world's largest social network raised at least $16 billion in selling 421 million shares at $38 apiece on Thursday. But Friday morning when markets opened was average investors' first chance to own a piece of the website that boasts more than 900 million members.

After a lengthy delay, when shares started changing hands at about 11:30 a.m. Facebook shares were going for $42 — $4 or more than 10 per cent above the IPO price.

The most hotly anticipated initial public offering of recent memory, the stock is trading under the symbol FB.

From the company's Menlo Park, Calif., headquarters, Zuckerberg remotely rang the bell to open the stock exchange in New York, but Facebook shares themselves didn't start trading until 11 a.m. ET.

Stock demand reaches fever pitch

Investor demand for the stock appears to have hit a fever pitch, but it's questionable whether the company can live up to its hype.

Data released this week suggested the ratio with which Facebook users click on the ads they see on the site is significantly lower than the ratio other web companies see. Online ad company Wordstream estimates Facebook's click ratio is 0.051 per cent, whereas at Google, it's as high as 0.4 per cent.

This week, the world's largest car company, GM, announced it would stop spending the $10 million it currently spends on Facebook ads, preferring to use those funds elsewhere — a concerning development for a company on the verge of an IPO.

Still, Facebook has already fared better than many of its online rivals in that it already makes money. The company earned $205 million in the January to March quarter, on revenue of $1.06 billion. In 2011, Facebook pocketed $1 billion in profit.