But there's more than one way to value an IPO. Most of us are more interested in how much value that initial offering places on the entire company. By that measure, Facebook is head and shoulders above General Motors and every other "biggest" IPO that's come along in recent years:
We know Mark Zuckerberg started the site at Harvard in February 2004. Now, 99 months later, it's worth $100 billion. That's an incredible amount of value to create in a relatively short time, but I didn't truly appreciate how outsized that valuation was until I compared it to these former IPO champions and the length of time each took from founding to reach the IPOs that earned them so much.
How did Facebook's tech peers begin their public lives? In every case (even Google's), far more humbly:
With the benefit of hindsight, we can see that most of these companies were bargains at the time, and continued excellence has brought early shareholders some amazing gains: