Facebook setting the stage for IPO (RUMORED)- The Washington Post reported this week that Facebook is preparing itself for a potential IPO in 2012. According to their report , documents recently surfaced, revealing that Facebook is expected to exceed 500 shareholders this year, which ‘could force the company to begin making financial disclosures to the public as early as April 2012. Securities and Exchange Commission rules require companies with more than 500 shareholders to make routine financial filings even if the firms are privately held. Companies have 120 days after crossing that threshold to register as a reporting company. Most companies opt to go public when they are required to make these kinds of disclosures.’
Goldman Sachs  began reaching out to its private clients this week, offering them the opportunity to invest in Facebook. Together with a Russian investor, Goldman Sachs has raised $500 million for Facebook in a deal that values the social networking site at $50 billion.
It’s difficult to know exactly whether or not Facebook is worth a whopping $50 billion, and the sum has sparked a storm of industry discussion. Sam Gustin at Wired.com weighs in on Goldman Sachs’s appraisal of Facebook in his article “Goldman’s $50 Billion Facebook Valuation Is No Bargain.”  Ben Worthen at The Wall Street Journal  takes a different approach to the question, by comparing Facebook’s current situation with Google circa 2004. Also, check out The New York Times’ “TechTalk Podcast: Facebook’s Investors.” 
Apple launches Mac App Store- Apple launched its new Mac App Store with about 1,000 paid and free apps, allowing Mac users to find and download applications to their computers. Many have already found  security flaws in the store, making it possible to illegally download the pay applications.
Skype adds video calling to iPhone app- Skype added  a Skype-to-Skype video calls feature to its iPhone app at the end of last month. Previously, iPhone Skype users couldn’t make or receive video calls over their smartphone devices. (The app is not yet available for Android phones.) This week Skype introduced  its new group video service at CES. The group video service , which was previously in beta, supports video calls for up to 10 users and has a view feature that automatically focuses in on the individual speaking.
Skype also agreed  to a deal to acquire the video-start up Qik this week. Qik’s video apps enable users to share live videos. According to a statement released by Skype and Qik, “Both Skype and Qik have a common purpose of enriching communications and sharing with video, across any device. The acquisition of Qik helps accelerate Skype’s leadership in video by adding recording, sharing, and storing capabilities to Skype’s product portfolio.”
The Hype Around Quora- The Q&A startup Quora has been generating a lot of industry buzz this week. Adam D’Angelo and Charlie Cheever, two former Facebook employees, founded the knowledge sharing site in 2009. Similar to Twitter or Aardvark, Quora users can follow people and categories of interest. The company describes itself, as “a continually improving collection of questions and answers created, edited, and organized by everyone who uses it.”  The promise of Quora, and a possible explanation for the recent hype, is that unlike Twitter, Quora isn’t just for industry geeks. The platform cultivates an actual exchange of knowledge, something that no existing social media network can boast.
For more opinions check out:
- Christopher Heine’s article “Quora Booms, But Will Marketers ‘Follow’?”  on ClickZ
- Anthony D Poerio’s article “Tech Tabloids: Have You Started Hysterically Tweeting About Quora Yet?” 
- Vadim Lavruski’s post “Why Quora Will Never Be as Big as Twitter”  on Mashable.com