Sources "familiar with the matter" have told The Wall Street Journal that Facebook is preparing to file papers for its initial public offering as early as February 1st. Facebook has long been rumored to be considering an IPO for early 2012, but has continued to decline comment on the matter. Sources say that the company is likely to pick Morgan Stanley to underwrite the launch — meaning it would be the taking the lead on assessing share value and approaching investors — but that other banks, including Goldman Sachs, would also be involved in managing the deal.

No new numbers were given on the amount of Facebook's initial offering. Previous reports have suggested that it might be as high as $10 billion, and current sources say the company will be valued at $75 to $100 billion. A $10 billion IPO would give Facebook the highest technology offering in history, dwarfing the previous record of $5.9 billion for Infineon Technologies AG. Google, which holds the record for largest US tech IPO, went for $1.9 billion. So far, Facebook has been in no hurry to go public, a move that would make it more beholden to shareholders and require it to release more information about its business.