Facebook Inc's young CEO Mark Zuckerberg took questions about the No. 1 social network's slowing revenue growth and its $1 billion Instagram purchase, kicking off a cross-country roadshow on Monday to promote its $10 billion initial public offering.
Wearing his trademark hoodie sweatshirt, jeans and sneakers, Zuckerberg fended off one investor who questioned the deal to buy photo-sharing developer Instagram, an acquisition analysts and media said may have been concluded too hastily.
The 27-year-old - whose majority control of Facebook worries some investors about accountability - r eplied he would do the Instagram deal again if he had to, according to attendees.
Hundreds of investors packed the Sheraton Hotel in Manhattan and formed a snaking line around the block outside, watched by police and clipboard-carrying staffers, a stark contrast to the more mundane nature of the average investor IPO presentation.
Facebook aims to raise about $10.6 billion, dwarfing the coming-out parties of tech companies like Google Inc and granting it a market value of up to $96 billion - rivaling Amazon.com Inc's.
Facebook's emergence as a cultural phenomenon, whose beginnings were depicted in the fictionalized 2010 film The Social Network, added a palpable energy and buzz to an event that was policed rigorously.
Attendees were asked for multiple forms of identification and cross-checked against a list of names. Curious passers-by asked questions to media and investors waiting to spot arriving Facebook executives.
One investor joked that it should have been held in New York's Madison Square Garden, home of the Knicks basketball team and a standard venue for rock concerts.
This is unlike anything we've ever seen, said another investor who was at the event.
FROM DORM ROOM TO NASDAQ
Observers pointed to Monday's outsized event as a sign that interest was high in one of the biggest retail-technology names to hit stock markets in years.
The 8-year-old social network that began as Zuckerberg's Harvard dorm room project indicated an IPO range of $28 to $35 a share on Thursday, which would value the company at $77 billion to $96 billion.
The size of the IPO reflects the company's growth and bullish expectations about its money-making potential as a hub for everything from advertising to commerce. Many investors say they expect Facebook to raise its offer price range as the roadshow progresses from New York to other major cities such as Chicago, Boston and San Francisco over the next two weeks.
Amid the hoopla of one of the most closely watched