الثلاثاء، 7 فبراير 2012

Facebook's Zuckerberg may face $2 billion tax hit 2012

Facebook's Zuckerberg may face $2 billion tax hit

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's 2012 tax bill could be one for the record books.Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's 2012 tax bill could be one for the record books.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Facebook's upcoming IPO will make founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg a billionaire -- but it will also stick him with an eye-popping tax bill that could reach as high as $2 billion.
Industry experts say that might be one for the record books.
"I personally have never seen a bill into the billions -- close, but not quite," said Anthony Nitti, a Colorado-based CPA and partner with Withum, Smith and Brown. "I talked to a few buddies of mine at the Big Four accounting firms, and it's something not many people have seen."
The giant tax hit is a consequence of Zuckerberg's plan to exercise stock options worth billions. The move will significantly increase his ownership stake in the company he founded eight years ago.
Zuckerberg currently owns almost 414 million shares of Facebook, but he also holds options to buy another 120 million shares at the bargain price of 6 cents a piece. Facebook said in its IPO paperwork that Zuckerberg plans to exercise those options and will sell some of his shares during Facebook's initial offering to cover the tax bill.
The type of options Zuckerberg holds are taxable as ordinary income when they're exercised, even if the shareholder hangs onto the shares and doesn't sell them. That means Zuckerberg will owe taxes on the difference between what he pays for his Facebook shares -- 6 cents -- and their market value the day he exercises the options.
Facebook said in its IPO filing that it values its shares at $29.73. At that price, Zuckerberg's options windfall would be worth $3.6 billion.
But analysts expect Facebook shares to go for a premium when they're sold to the public. A private-market trade last week valued Facebook's shares at $40 each -- giving the company an overall valuation of around $100 billion. That price tag would make Zuckerberg's options worth almost $5 billion.

ither way, the windfall lines him up for a whopping tax bill. The top U.S. marginal tax rate this year is 35%. Zuckerberg's home state of California also carves off a big slice, hitting those with incomes of $1 million or more with a 10.3% income tax.
Stock options are a tax swampland, and it's hard to estimate precisely what Zuckerberg will end up paying. But tax analysts are ballparking the total at somewhere in the $1.5 billion to $2 billion range -- a nearly unprecedented sum.
The IRS doesn't comment on individual tax bills, but an analysis of the top 400 U.S. taxpayers with the highest reported incomes for 2009 (the most recent year available) shows that the average tax bill for a member of the ultra-1% club was $49 million. The top 400 collectively paid income taxes totaling $19.6 billion.
Zuckerberg could single-handedly boost that stat significantly in 2012.
Still, accountants said Zuckerberg's tax plan is the right move.
The 27-year-old entrepreneur is famously loathe to give up any ownership control over his company, and he plans to sell only enough stock to cover his tax bill, Facebook said in its regulatory paperwork.
That means that the rest of Zuckerberg's billions will remain hypothetical paper wealth, and his financial fortunes will stay closely entangled with Facebook's.

Facebook's stunning growth - and billionaires

"He's doing it the smart way," said Stan Pollock, a San Francisco CPA who specializes in stock options planning. "We learned from the dot-com bust that people should do it that way -- sell shares to cover the tax bill."
During the dot-com bubble peak in 2000, countless tech industry workers got burned by roller-coaster stock prices. For tax purposes, the value of most stock options is fixed the day they're exercised -- even if you don't sell any of the stock. If you pay $5 to exercise an option and buy shares valued at $30, the IRS views your gain as income of $25.
What happens if the stock plunges before you sell any shares? You're still on the hook for the price it was the day you exercised it.
"People were exercising options and holding them in anticipation of the stock going up and up. The stock would go and up and up and up -- and then go down," Pollock said. "A lot of people were stuck with huge tax bills and no money to pay the bills."
Facebook will also get a significant boost from its employees' stock windfalls.
That's because companies can take a "mirror" tax deduction for stock option compensation when the options are exercised.
Thanks to its deduction on Zuckerberg's staggering tax bill and other stock-related expenses, Facebook expects to show a net operating loss this year for U.S. federal tax purposes. That means it will qualify for a refund on some of the taxes it paid last year on its $1 billion profit.
"We anticipate that this refund could be up to $500 million and payable to us during the first six months of 2013," Facebook said in its IPO filing.
Here's the ironic twist: While Zuckerberg's 2012 income will be stratospheric, his 2013 earnings could drop him straight back into the lowest possible tax brackets. At his request, Facebook's board agreed to slash his annual salary next year to $1. To top of page
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The iPhone is once again the world's No. 1 smartphone 2012

Regained the spot that it took from Nokia in June and gave up to Samsung in September

Click to enlarge. Source: IDC
It will come as no surprise to Apple (AAPL) watchers that the company sold 37 million iPhones last quarter. Tim Cook reported that number two weeks ago.
Getting comparable figures from Apple's competitors is a different matter, and that's where companies like IDC come in. Samsung, for example, used to report only the number of mobile phones it shipped -- which is not the same as selling them -- and in 2011 it stopped sharing even that.
So the report IDC publishes every quarter ranking the top smartphone manufacturers by its estimates of their worldwide shipments is a closely watched benchmark. Among the highlights of the press release it issued Monday: (I quote)
Apple climbed back into the market leadership position with the launch of its iPhone 4S worldwide, and in the process it reached a new shipment volume record for itself and for the entire industry for a single quarter.

Samsung marked a series of milestones for the quarter: breaking the 30 million units mark for the first time, posting the largest year-over-year increase among the top vendors, and finishing 2011 as the overall smartphone market leader.

Nokia posted the largest year-over-year decrease among the top vendors, but its smartphone strategy took another step forward with the release of its first Windows Phone smartphones.
Research In Motion finished the quarter with a mixed bag of results. Its new BB OS 7-powered BlackBerry smartphones reached additional markets, and total volumes for the quarter staved off a fourth consecutive quarter of sequential decline.
HTC: Despite the many high-profile launches during the quarter... the Taiwanese vendor still shipped lower volumes compared to the previous quarter.

Below the fold: IDC's Q4 2011 spreadsheet.

Posted in: Apple, BlackBerry, International Data Corporation, iPhone 4S, Mobile, Nokia, RIM, Samsung, Windows Phone

Facebook looks to make mobile click 2012-2-7

When Facebook starts offering marketers the chance to highlight their messages in smartphone apps and other mobile devices in the run-up to its initial public offering, it will begin to tackle a problem that has flummoxed more established tech companies: how to make sure ad revenue is not lost as use of their services shifts to smaller screens.
The mobile marketing industry has been growing fast in recent years, with analysts at Informa Media & Telecoms estimating global market growth of 51 per cent in 2011 to $5.3bn. However, mobile advertising today remains a minor portion of brands’ total digital marketing spend in spite of aggressive drives into the sector by Google and Apple.


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“No one has cracked mobile advertising,” says Christian Lindholm, a former Nokia designer who is now chief innovation officer at Fjord, a digital consultancy. “The fundamental problem is the lack of screen real estate.”
Traditional banner ads – the widespread but low-value format used by most websites – “aren’t going to pay for the orchestra to play” on mobile, Mr Lindholm says.
Facebook is expected to opt for its own unique ad format on mobile, as it has throughout its site.
“Featured stories” is likely to be Facebook’s first mobile marketing format of many, potentially including “rich media” such as video and potentially exploiting the narrow geographical targeting of its users.
In November 2010, Facebook launched Groupon-style “check-in deals” where users register their location with a business via its smartphone app, but brands have been slower to adopt them than its other ads.
Getting permission for more personalised forms of mobile marketing will be crucial if Facebook is to avoid upsetting users, says Alexandre Mars, chief executive of Publicis Groupe’s mobile agency, Phonevalley. “They know a lot of things about you – how and when they can start using them and whether you will be OK or be annoyed – that will be their challenge.”
Getting the go-ahead from users for location-targeted ads on phones will need to be “much more clear” than just adding it to Facebook’s existing, lengthy privacy policy, Mr Mars adds. But offering a more sophisticated form of mobile advertising is essential if Facebook is to boost the rates it can charge brands.
Facebook is not alone in facing this challenge. Apple’s 2010 launch of iAd, which allows advertisers to launch sophisticated video or animated ads from a banner in iPhone or iPad apps, has been a rare false start for the company.
Last month, Apple hired a former Adobe and Yahoo executive, Todd Teresi, to reinvigorate iAd, which has lost out to Admob, which Google acquired for $750m in 2010. Google had a 52 per cent share of the US mobile ad market in 2011, according to analysts at Emarketer, compared with just 6.4 per cent for Apple, its nearest rival.


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In-depth news and analysis on Facebook as the social network takes the first step towards its stock market debut
Searches on mobile devices where Google can show ads doubled during last year, as it introduced new ad formats such as allowing users to “click to call” local businesses.
But even Google is struggling with its inability to charge as much for mobile search ads as it does on the desktop web, a discrepancy which contributed to an 8 per cent decline in the company’s overall cost-per-click rates in the fourth quarter of last year.
Fewer people purchase items using their phones, analysts say, so advertisers are not willing to pay as much to reach those users in spite of the increasingly substantial time they spend on the mobile internet. Facebook may suffer a similar dilution in pricing when it rolls out mobile ads, analysts warn.
Facebook’s leadership has not emphasised mobile as a priority for the company as strongly as Google’s, notes Mr Mars. “It’s important it comes from the top of the organisation.”
But when Facebook does enter the mobile market, it could help to accelerate a shift towards personalised, targeted ads, says Rob Jonas, vice-president for Europe, Middle East and Africa of independent ad network InMobi – rather than ads based on the app or website they happen to appear on.
“It’s something that’s been talked about for quite some time and is now starting to become more of a reality and more effective,” he says.
That could be more lucrative than search or banners, Mr Jonas says, as well as being more palatable for users.
“As long as you are creating relevant content, it will be a good user experience,” he says.
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