Facebook made its long-awaited filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission for an initial public offering.
"We often talk about inventions like the printing press and the television," Zuckerberg said in a letter accompanying the filing. "Today, our society has reached another tipping point."
"Facebook was not originally created to be a company. It was built to accomplish a social mission — to make the world more open and connected," Zuckerberg wrote. "We think a more open and connected world will help create a stronger economy with more authentic businesses that build better products and services."
The long-awaited submission kicks off a months-long process that will culminate in Silicon Valley's biggest coming-out party since the heyday of the dot-com boom and bust.
The stock is expected to trade under the symbol "FB," though the exchange it will be traded on has yet to be determined.
In the filing, the company said it hopes to raise up to $5 billion, though that number could go higher. (Click here to read the SEC filing.)
Facebook had previously been expected to raise $10 billion in what would have been the fourth-largest IPO in U.S. history, after Visa, General Motors, and AT&T Wireless, according to Thomson Reuters data.
The offering is being underwritten by a team led by Morgan Stanley. JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs and Bank of America/Merrill Lynch, Barclays Capital and Allen & Co. are among the other underwriters.
The offering is expected to occur in the second quarter.
In the filing, the company said it had net income of $1 billion in 2011, up 65 percent from a year earlier. Revenue jumped 88 percent to $3.7 billion from 2010.
As expected, the prospectus underscored how the lion's share of Facebook's revenue, 85 percent, was derived from advertising in 2011. Last year, social-gaming company Zynga, the creator of Farmville, accounted for 12 percent of Facebook's revenue.
As of Dec. 31, the company had 845 million monthly average users and 483 million daily active users, up 48 percent from a year earlier.
The world's largest social network, a dorm room project for Harvard dropout Mark Zuckerberg that exploded in popularity and vaulted to Silicon Valley's top tier within 8 years, submitted preliminary IPO documents to the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission after weeks of frenzied speculation.
- Reuters contributed to this article.