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5 IPOs Tech Needs Now

No. 2: Facebook

Can nearly half a billion people be wrong? Successor to News Corp's (NWS) MySpace and Yahoo's (YHOO) GeoCities, Facebook now claims 400 million users. And apparently half of those people check in daily for a laugh, a dose of gossip and maybe a gander at their friends' ridiculous adventure photos. Andrew's vacation beard, for example, was totally unnerving.

For lack of a better comparison, Facebook, with an estimated $800 million in annual revenues, is a bit like a pre-IPO Google in the sense that it is capturing an ever-larger share of Internet traffic on a daily basis, albeit more slowly then it did as an upstart. But it remains to be seen whether Facebook can ever collect as much revenue from that traffic as Google does. To be sure, the sheer volume of users suggests a wealth of potential.

However, continual privacy snafus and a troubling advertising scheme that promises to turn friends into shills certainly work against Facebook. But investors may be willing to dismiss that for the chance to take a whack at an Internet giant that might be as big as, well, Google.

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