-Social networking giant files documents today to begin trading publicly
-Stock expected to start trading in May; employees set for huge windfall
-Putting together bucket lists of purchase ideas including space travel
-Charity donations, house sales and car purchases expected to boom
By MARK DUELL and HUGO GYE
Thanks: This image in the IPO filing shows some of the employees likely to benefit. Founder Mark Zuckerberg is pictured centre under the white space
They have spent years planning lavish adventures, dreaming of driving top-of-the-range sports cars and sizing up luxury apartments in the Golden State.
Now, after a blockbuster $5billion Facebook stock exchange flotation moved a step closer today, at least 1,000 employees of the social network based in Menlo Park, California, are finally on their way to becoming millionaires.
Facebook today submitted paperwork to regulators for the most anticipated initial public offering since Google in 2004, expected to value the hugely-successful company at up to $100billion.
Big money: Facebook's earliest employees and early venture capital investors will see the biggest paydays. The website's founder Mark Zuckerberg, pictured, reportedly owns a little over a fifth of the company
The company hopes to list its stock under the ticker symbol 'FB' on the New York Stock Exchange or Nasdaq Stock Market.
In its regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Facebook Inc. indicated it hopes to raise $5billion in its IPO - a new record for a technology company, surpassing Google's $1.9billion IPO in 2004.
Windfall: The new millionaires will no doubt already be flicking through catalogues of luxury cars and yachts
This is a remarkable turnaround for a company which, as its founder explained in a letter attached to the filing, 'was not originally created to be a company', and still uses 'The Hacker Way' to guide its development.
The filing laid bare a number of key facts about the previously secretive firm - and exposed Mr Zuckerberg's strict control over many aspects of the company's management.
The site has 845million active users, and half of them typically visit the site on any given day.
While it may seem that everyone in the English-speaking world has a Facebook account, in fact the site has only penetrated 60 per cent of the market in the U.S. and the UK, and is most popular in Chile, Turkey and Venezuela.
The filing makes it clear that China, where Facebook is currently banned, is the next big target - but expresses doubt that it can craft a censorship policy which would be 'acceptable to us and to the Chinese government'.
Even without access to the Chinese market, and with relatively few users in countries like Japan and South Korea, Facebook managed to make $668million in profit last year, out of total revenue of $3.7billion.
Advertising accounted for 85 per cent of that revenue, but that was less than in previous years thanks to the spectacular success of games company Zynga, which contributed 12 per cent of Facebook's revenue through royalties which amount to 30 per cent of the money spent on Zynga's games via Facebook.
And despite the runaway growth of Facebook since its origins in 2004, amazing power remains concentrated in the hands of one man: Mr Zuckerberg.
Despite owning no more than a quarter of shares, he will control 57 per cent of votes even after the sale of shares to the public.
Office: Facebook's headcount has swelled from 700 employees in late 2008 to more than 3,000 today. There will be more than a thousand people looking at million-dollar-plus paydays after it goes public
The company's filing even singled out Mr Zuckerberg's control as a major risk which could jeopardise the company's performance in future - it pointed out that he was able to vote 'in his own interests, which may not always be in the interests of our stockholders generally'.
But he will not prove much of a burden to the company financially - his salary, which was $500,000 in 2011, is set to drop to just $1 next year.
Already billionaires: Former Facebook president Sean Parker, 31, right, is worth $2.1billion and owns 4 per cent of Facebook; while co-founder of Facebook Eduardo Saverin, 29, left, is worth only slightly less at $2billion
He is unlikely to miss his salary, however, as Forbes magazine estimated Mr Zuckerberg's wealth at $17.5billion in its most recent survey of the richest people in the U.S.
Band of brothers: Co-founder and original Facebook spokesman Chris Hughes, 28, left, is worth $700 million, and the social-networking site's first chief technology officer Dustin Moskovitz, 27, is worth $3.5billion
Meanwhile a group of current and former Facebook workers have begun laying the groundwork for an expedition to Mexico and want to partner with an archaeological Mayan ruins programme.
Facebook's earliest employees and early venture capital investors will see the biggest paydays.
But the wealth will trickle down to engineers, salespeople and other staffers who later joined the company, since most employees receive salary plus some kind of equity-based compensation.
Facebook's headcount has swelled from 700 employees in late 2008 to more than 3,000 today. There will be more than a thousand people looking at million-dollar-plus paydays after it goes public.
IPO: The initial public offering is the biggest ever to come out of the tech hub of Silicon Valley
Meanwhile the new Facebook millionaires may decide to donate some of their winnings to charities and non-profitable organisations, with many California-based and national groups set to benefit.
‘When wealth is created like that and folks are holding highly appreciating assets, it’s a great opportunity to start a philanthropic legacy,’ charitable giving expert Rob Mitchell told MSNBC.
Waiting on Wall Street: Facebook's IPO filing is revealing how much it intends to raise from the stock market, what it plans to do with the money and details on its own financial performance and future growth prospects
The state of California will also benefit from the IPO by reaping hundreds of millions of dollars in capital gains taxes, from investors and employees profiting from Facebook stock sales.
California, which has a state government facing a $9.2billion deficit, taxes capital gains from stock sales and could be in for a big revenue boost when Facebook goes public.