FACEBOOK is now worth a staggering $41bn (£25.5bn), valuing it ahead of online auction site eBay.
The valuation, based on shares traded on SecondMarket, an exchange for privately held companies, makes Facebook the third largest online firm in the US.
It still trails in the wake of Google, which is worth $192.9bn, and Amazon, worth $74.4bn, but sails past eBay, which is worth $39.4bn.
Zuckerberg has repeatedly claimed the firm could be heading for a stock market flotation in the second half of 2012, which could light a fire under one of the biggest IPOs of the decade.
The news came as Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg announced his firm will launch an email service to rival Google’s Gmail.
Zuckerberg said the new service will be based on the principal that messaging should be instant, placing it in direct competition with Gmail’s conversation-led email platform.
However, Facebook will also be taking on the likes of Microsoft’s Hotmail, and MySpace email, both of which have seen a steady decline in user numbers in recent years.
Over the weekend, AOL announced a preview of another new email service dubbed Project Phoenix – a tacit acknowledgment of just how far the internet giant has slipped as a major player in the online world. AOL’s email audience has been dwindling but it still accounts for 45 per cent of page views on the AOL network.
FAST FACTS | FACEBOOK
The social networking site now has more than 500m users and has set its sight on 1bn.
It is the top social networking site in almost every market. Nations where Facebook is not top include China and Russia.