Facebook IPO has investors panting

While it’s probably 1 to 2 years off, the investing world is salivating for a Facebook IPO. And with good reason. The site just surpassed eBay to become the third most valuable tech company in the U.S., according to SecondMarket.com.

While it’s probably 1 to 2 years off, the investing world is salivating for a Facebook IPO. And with good reason. The site just surpassed eBay to become the third most valuable tech company in the U.S., according to SecondMarket.com – a marketplace where investors can buy and sell stock in private companies.

SecondMarket estimates Facebook’s worth at around $41 billion. That’s slightly more than eBay’s (NASDAQ:EBAY) $39.3 billion valuation on the NASDAQ, and it trails only Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG). All told, Facebook is expected to generate some $1.4 billion in advertising revenue this year. The company also makes money through the purchase of game credits, and that’s where CEO Mark Zuckerberg sees something different in the company’s future.

“In gaming we get some percentage of the value of those companies, largely through their transactions through buying ads and credits right now, but that’s all because we’re helping them,” Zuckerberg said recently in an interview. “And, if we’re helpful to other industries in building out what would be a good solution for e-commerce or something like that, then I think there will be some way to get value from that.”

The company isn’t fixated on advertising as its sole revenue model. It’s just ancillary to the goal of making the Web a more social place. If the company can figure out new ways to profit off online socialization, it could alter the very landscape of the tech world. And investors seem confident that if any company could do such a thing, Facebook just might be that company.

The value of Facebook on New York-based SecondMarket has more than tripled in the past year, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

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